Why am I struggling? 3/25/19

John 9:1-3 NKJV

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

Many times we wonder why God has put us in certain situations. We feel like it’s unfair. That if God were a just God, no one should struggle. I hear this question a lot from unbelievers and even have asked it myself at a time in my life: “If there is really a God, why is there suffering in the world?”

And here is the answer to that question. So that people would be unique, we were given free will. Otherwise, everyone would be exactly the same. Every person has a story. You aren’t struggling because you are being punished. You may be going through a trial to reveal God’s works in the end to be a witness to the world or even just one person. Everybody has a story. You can choose to suffer through your struggles alone. Or you can call out to Jesus, who is alive and real, and lay your worries at the feet of the one that made everything. You can believe that He will put his arms around you and carry you through this, and in the end your sad story can be a testimony of the marvelous works that God did with you.

Just remember, when you get down, wondering what you did to deserve this, that it may just be that God just wants to use you again to do His works.

Love you all and God Bless

Marriage: Discussing Your Spiritual Beliefs – Samuel Burger – 3/4/19

Our view of spirituality greatly influences the way we live. This is an important discussion for to have together.

-Are our spiritual beliefs compatible?

2 Cor. 6:14-16. This can be applied to marriage.

  1. What do you think about God?

Can you Define Christianity? Can you Define what it means to be saved? Christianity is the belief that God has spoken through the prophets and scriptures that Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah who would pay the penalty for our sins and forgive us.

Many people come to adulthood never exploring their own spiritual belief system. Lots of people call themselves Christian because they were raised in a Christian home. If you cannot be open and honest about your spiritual beliefs before marriage, you are not likely to do so after marriage and your spiritual beliefs will become a source of conflict.

  1. Explore each other’s beliefs

To marry simply because you are in love and to ignore your spiritual differences are signs of immaturity. Explore!

  1. What kind of “Christian?”

There are different levels of commitment among Christians. Christmas, Easter only. For some, they attend church on a regular basis. For some, it’s a weekly event. Some live in close community with the church and are deeply involved. Many Christians serve the community and are deeply involved in ministry. There are Christians who view themselves as having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They even have a daily devotional. So it’s important to know what kind of Christian you are dating. Questions to ask:

-What is their level of commitment and involvement in the Christian community?

-How important is their faith to them?

-What kind of impact does their faith have on their personal life?

It’s obvious that a Easter-Christmas Christian is very different from a daily “quiet time” Christian.

For some, Christianity is just a religion; something you just do on Sunday and has little relevance to how you live your life. But to others, Christianity is your life. So you’ve got to have a strong spiritual foundation.
For a lot of couples, they just assume that this area will take care of itself after marriage. It’s possible to be so “in love” that you ignore the huge differences in your spiritual views.

Your spiritual beliefs are often accompanied by strong emotions and deeply held convictions. These beliefs will affect the way you approach life. Make sure you explore the foundation of spiritual compatibility before you make the commitment to marriage.

Practical Discussion:

-What are the basic spiritual beliefs of your parents?

-Where are you in your spiritual journey? Have you accepted, rejected, or modified the spiritual beliefs that you were taught as a child?

-What are your basic beliefs about God?

-What spiritual organizations are you affiliated with? How active is your involvement?

-How do your spiritual beliefs affect your lifestyle?

-Do you think you hold enough in common to build spiritual intimacy in your marriage?

Pastor Samuel

Before You Marry – Samuel Burger – 2/6/19

Have a Plan For Your Money! 

What is the number one cause for divorce in America? Finances. 

Many times a couple has very different ideas about saving and spending. If you develop a plan now before you are married, you will save yourselves a lot of useless fighting. The following is an overview of the 1st session of what I use in helping couples who plan to marry. 

  1. “Our money”

You must understand that there’s no such thing as mine and yours. Work together as a team in deciding what to do with your money. Your debts and your partner’s debts become “our debts.” Savings also. If you aren’t ready to share your income, your not ready for marriage. 

  1. Saving, Sharing, Spending

Agree on a percentage of income that you will save, give away and spend. Have you heard of the 10-10-80 plan? 10% goes to God, 10% goes to savings. 80% goes to other expenses and recreation. But you both must come to an agreement of how you handle your money. Not his or hers but our money. A few problem areas:

-The most common mistake young people make is buying a house that’s beyond their income. Be wise in this area. Try to spend no more than 40% of your income on housing and utilities. 

-Watch out for credit buying. “Buy now, pay later.” What’s not stated is that if you buy now without cash, you will pay much more later. Interest rates are mainly in the 18-21% bracket. Credit is very dangerous. I always recommend to never have a credit card but if you have a credit card, use it only for emergencies and necessities (car repair, major appliance) and pay it off as quickly as possible. The reason why most people use credit cards and credit buying is because they want now what they cannot pay for now. They can’t delay instant gratification. Don’t compare what you have with what other people have. They are in debt to their eyeballs. Some aren’t but most are. You don’t need things to be happy. 

-Major Purchases. Come to an agreement that neither of you will make a major purchase without consulting the other. Your agreement must have a dollar value. How much can one spend without telling the other? 

  1. Who will keep the books?

Decide on this. The one who “keeps the books” is the one who pays the monthly bills and keeps tabs on the online accounts. This person keeps track with the spending plan you agreed upon. Your both in charge of making financial decisions but one is the bookkeeper. Now it may change after awhile and you may switch roles. Always remember that you are a team and you make financial decisions together. Note: These previous steps are adapted from the book, “Things I wish I’d known before we got married.” The author is Gary Chapman. 

Practical Discussion:

  1. Discuss your current financial plan. 
  2. Do you tithe 10% of your income?
  3. Do you place at least 10% of your income into some savings and investment plan? 
  4. Declare your total assets and liabilities to each other. 
  5. Work out a financial plan together now before you get married. 
  6. Discuss your dollar value on purchases that doesn’t require you telling the other. 
  7. Who will keep the books? Why?

Practical Suggestive Plan (Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps) www.daveramsey.com

  1. Put 1,000.00 in a beginner emergency fund. (This is protection against life’s unexpected events.) 
  2. Pay off all debt using the debt snowball. (No matter what “they” say, debt will keep you from accomplishing your financial goals. The borrower is always a slave to the lender. 
  3. Put three to six months of expenses into savings as a full emergency fund. 
  4. Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAS and pretax retirement plans. (You may not think this is important now but this is one of the greatest financial tools of investement. Many have ended up being a millionaire simply because they started an IRA when they were young. (If you Saved 100.00 a month, every month, at the average return of 12 percent, from age 25 to 65, you’d retire with more than 1.1 million! The key is to start early so you can take advantage of compound interest. 
  5. Begin college funding for your kids. (This is optional but if you want your kids to get a good education without student loan debt, this will be a great gift to them. Look up an ESA account, 529 plan.)
  6. Pay off your home early. (If you haven’t bought a home, try to get a 15 year fixed rate mortgage instead of a 30 year. Try to put at least 10% down. Your payment should be no more than 25% of your take home pay. Or just save to buy it outright completely. 
  7. Build wealth and give. 

Remember that you must have a plan that you agree on together for your money. 

Ultimately, God wants your marriage to be a blessing to others but you must be a good steward of what He has given you. I’ll leave you with a verse, “(b) the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7. 
Pastor Samuel

1/27/19 Laodicea – Hot or Cold?

Verses to read- Revelation 3:15-16

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” -Rev. 3:15-16 NLT

When most people read this quote Jesus made in His message to the church in Laodicea, they automatically interpret it as Jesus telling the people that He would rather them be “on fire” with passion to worship Him and glorify His name than to be merely cold and “dead” Christians.

However, why would Jesus want anyone to be a cold, pewsitting Christian? The answer is simple, that isn’t what He meant at all in His message to Laodicea. In fact, once you dig into the geographical components of Laodicea’s location, you will begin to understand this verse with a more logical explanation.

Where Laodicea is located, there are two rivers that come together to create the water supply for the town. The problem is that one of the rivers come from a place called Hierapolis, which is known for its hot springs. These hot springs are full of minerals and are useful for relaxation and restoration. The second supply of water came from a place called Colossae, a place known for their cold, refreshing water, which was useful to drink on a hot day. It was used to quench thirst among many other uses. This water was cold, but it most certainly fulfilled its predestined purpose. Once the water from either place reached Laodicea, the water was warm, full of mineral deposits, and disgusting. This lukewarm water did not fulfill its purpose to provide for the people. When people drank the water, it was so nasty it would oftentimes make them nauseous. It was completely useless, good for nothing, and if you put it in your mouth you would almost immediately want to spit it out. This is why Jesus used His illustration to these people, because they knew that the cold water was highly resourceful and useful, and the hot water was as well. But they knew how nasty it was for the lukewarm water was and how displeased they were with this water.

Jesus wanted Laodicea to know how fake they were. He wanted them to know that their Sunday morning Christianity wasn’t going to send them to Heaven. These people worshipped God on Sundays, but worshipped the world the rest of the week. Going to church and worshipping the Lord during Sunday and mid-week services at your local church is NOT going to get you to Heaven, that is the literal definition of lukewarm Christianity, and Jesus says He will spit you out of His mouth if you are lukewarm.

Don’t be a poser Christian.

Therefore, God wants you to be hot or cold. It doesn’t matter which one you are. However this doesn’t mean you’re either “hot” for Him or “cold” against Him. Being cold is a good thing. Being hot is a good thing. To be hot or cold is to have a purpose, a destiny, a calling, an anointing. It means you have an assignment in the Kingdom. But if you are playing in the middle, you are basically saying to God “I don’t want to go to hell, so I guess I accept your salvation. But I don’t want you.”

STOP PLAYING ON THE FENCE. STOP BEING LUKEWARM. STOP BEING A POSER. BE LEGIT. CHOOSE JESUS.

Be blessed, Jayden Johnson.

6/9/17 – Quality Relationships: Quality Time – Samuel Burger

Quality Relationships: Quality Time

A quality relationship demands quality time. From my personal experience and the observation of other couples, giving each other undivided attention is key to having a quality relationship. Quality time tells your significant other, “I place a high value on you. You are more important to me than anything else right now. You matter.” The Oxford Dictionary defines quality time as, “time spent in giving another person’s undivided attention to strengthen a relationship.” In order to have a quality relationship we must implement an exclusive regular time with each other.

Life can be hectic at times. The responsibilities of childcare, career and life’s curveballs can be time-consuming. Hear me out. There are important things you must take time for in your life but if you don’t take time for marriage there could be dire consequences. If quality time isn’t a priority for your relationship then you need to make some changes.

If you are saying I don’t have time for everything you are probably not in the will of God. Don’t you think if God wanted you to do all that stuff He would give you time to do it? Hear me out again. The problem isn’t time. The problem is priorities. God has given us enough time to accomplish what we need to do. We only use the excuse of time to cover up our messed-up priorities. Always remember that the will of God will never make you so busy that you don’t have time for what’s important. Here’s some ways to get this principle working in your life.

  1. Date Night: Have fun. Go see a show. Pursue an activity together. Go to a pottery class. Go to a dinner and a movie. Go for a walk by the river. Get creative. Leisure time is a must for any relationship. Don’t neglect date night. You know the old saying? Never stop dating your spouse. Schedule a set time to be together in a stress-free event that brings you closer together.
  2. Prayer: I know. You don’t feel comfortable praying to God who you can’t see in front of your spouse. Get used to it. If God is the glue of relationships then why would we not pray? It’s a no-brainer.
  3. Go to marriage conferences and retreats: “First things first” has great conferences. I guarantee that if you google Christian marriage conferences you’ll find one near you.
  4. Have fun: This is an area where I struggle in at times. But I have a God who will help me if I ask Him which brings us back to our second point! God will help you have fun if you ask Him. Yes, it’s that simple. I have a habit sometimes of carrying things with me such as someone pulling out in front of me on the highway. Silly ain’t it? Forgive me for being transparent but I don’t want to write this article while leaving you the impression I have things figured out. You don’t deserve that kind of treatment.

Always remember that the will of God will never make you so busy that you don’t have time for what’s important. You may need to make some changes but if you really want to see change for the good you will take the initiative.

5/9/17 – Overcome Any Obstacle – Samuel Burger

Overcome Any Obstacle

We can overcome any obstacle because of Jesus Christ. It’s essential to believe all our victories are rooted in Jesus Christ. We must always have the belief that victory is certain whatever obstacle we face.

  • Maybe you are in a financial crisis
  • Maybe you are experiencing marriage woes
  • Maybe you are having a difficult time with your children
  • Maybe you are struggling with the lies of the enemy

Friends, I’ve got Good News for you. 1 John 5:4-5 states, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

John writes to us on how we can overcome in this Scripture. So how do you do it?

  1. First, we need a relationship with God. Simply having a relationship with God is the key to overcoming sin and any hindering obstacle. Until you believe you was created primarily to have a relationship with God you won’t overcome. See, overcoming isn’t mainly about your works or deeds. What you do will take care of itself if you focus on your relationship with God. Overcoming simply hinges on your union with God. It’s through a relationship you get wisdom and assurance. Spend time with Him and take your time with Him. He has so many things to say to you. Start talking to Him and I guarantee He will communicate with you.
  2. A relationship with God is the victory that overcomes. You must have the faith God has already given you the victory. From the language tense used in this verse, John is saying we already have the victory before the battles even start! You are victorious before, during and after the battles you face. Believing this will change your spirit and perspective. When John says, “this is the victory that has overcome the world” he means overcoming anything that would hinder you from unbroken communion with Him. Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God! His victory is our victory. All the offers of the world are no match to the pleasure of victory we experience in Christ Jesus!
  3. A relationship with God starts with believing. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God then we can have victory in every area of our lives. Our believing is the antidote to push away the hindrances of this world and cultivate our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. The word “believe” means to “have confidence; to be persuaded.” The moment you have confidence is the moment you are born again, that is, able to have a relationship with God.

Victory is already achieved but to walk in victory we must focus on our relationship with Him and what He has done for us. What you are going through may not indicate victory but that’s why it’s our faith that overcomes the world.

4/4/17 – Do We Really Care? – Samuel Burger

Do We Really Care?

I went with the children’s ministry volunteers to a training event yesterday. Before the sessions started, the speaker gave alarming statistics.

  • In the state of Tennessee, there are 4 million people who don’t know Christ. 1 out of 2 people are lost.
  • If current trends continue, 9 out of 10 kids born after 9/11 will not know Christ.

As I heard these, I began to think about what we could do as the body of Christ to reach people more effectively.

  1. The first thing we must do is take ownership of these people who don’t have eternal life. If they don’t matter to us, then are we right with God?
  2. We must do something. There’s no such thing as a passive Christian. We are disciples and they are doers of God’s word.
  3. Pray specifically for these people. A prayer isn’t effective if there’s no specific request behind it. Be specific. God doesn’t want us to impress Him with our long and vague prayers. Do it from the heart. Be conversational with Him.

I am millennial. The generation after me is Generation Z. Generation Z will out populate millennials. Do you know what this means?

WE MUST GO OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH!

Yesterday I made a follow-up call with someone who visited the church. I was alarmed when I was told that the churches they visited never contacted them after asking for their contact information. I am in no way dishonoring other churches out there because we are the body of Christ. However, we need to at least let people know we care! If people matter to you, you will follow-up somehow. Be sure to remember to talk to them too! I shouldn’t have to say that but it bears repeating.

I plead with you to get involved with your local church. Get involved. Get connected. Here are a few ways you can get connected at Chestuee.

  1. Connection team: Provide a warm welcome and get their contact information and answer any questions they may have. Follow-up with them the next day and thank them for coming. Discuss involvement and salvation if applicable.
  2. Start a small group or be involved in an existing group: The purpose of a small group could be relational, missional, financial stewardship or simply dedicated to prayer. Church will provide curriculum.
  3. Bus ministry: Transporting people to and from church. Develop relationships with the families.
  4. Student ministry: Serve alongside the youth leader to invest in the youth.
  5. Children’s ministry: Serve as a teacher or a teacher’s helper.
  6. Nursery: Serve the parents while you take care of their children.
  7. Media ministry: Serve as a sound tech assistant, work in social media, video or take pictures of events. Always promote the gospel and engagement through social media.
  8. Praise and worship. Be on the team as they lead the congregation into God’s presence.
  9. Evangelism: Serve others by giving away free coffee, etc. No strings attached. Show the love of God in a tangible way.
  10. Fellowship meals: Serve alongside the food coordinator and others as you prepare meals for events at church and outside of church.
  11. Maintenance: Serve by making needed repairs and upkeep of buildings.
  12. Van maintenance: Serve by making sure the van is in good condition. You don’t have to work on the van just make us aware of the needed repairs. It’s up to you if you want to take it to the mechanic.
  13. Wide Open Ministries (Affiliate Ministry) Serve alongside Nick Herron and the team as they win people for Christ.
  14. Global Wrestling Ministries (Affiliate Ministry) Serve alongside Casey Kage as they win people for Christ.

Training will be provided and you have an option to serve in another area if you feel the area you chose is not what God called you to. These are just many of the few things you can do in God’s kingdom!

Each one of these ministries serves the vision God has given us which is to reach the lost and teach the saved. One last key I want to give you is that we must stop talking about going to church and be the church. Let’s be involved and be more than just a church-goer. Please join us to reach more people and fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. God bless you.

3/21/17 – The Principle of Faithfulness – Samuel Burger

“The Principle of Faithfulness”

Joel Prusak was an employee at the ice cream chain Dairy Queen. One day, as he was serving customers their food, he noticed that a blind man had dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the floor. A lady standing in line quietly bent down and put the twenty dollars into her own pocket. Young Joey Prusak approached the lady, asking her to give the twenty-dollar bill back to the blind man. She refused, quite aggressively, claiming it was her own. And then Joey did something very generous. Quietly, he opened up his own wallet and handed the blind man a twenty-dollar bill of his own. The man took the money gratefully, and the Dairy Queen resumed normal business.

A customer in line observed the whole episode and sent an e-mail to the Dairy Queen management, informing them of Joey’s act of generosity. The DQ management then posted about it on Facebook, and the event went viral. A couple of days later, Joey received a call from the billionaire Warren Buffet, a big investor in Dairy Queen. He thanked Joey for showing such integrity and asked him to come to the next Dairy Queen investors’ meeting. As Joey was an employee and representative of Dairy Queen, Buffet wanted him to be there as an integral part of the fabric of the organization.

Joey’s act of generosity inspired thousands of people to believe that they, too, could do something small to impact the world for good. It was a small act—with a huge impact. And so it is with God. He takes our small acts of obedience or kindness or goodness and multiplies them for his good, and ours. So don’t wait until you can do big things; start small. Sometimes small seeds grow into large trees, and sometimes they fail to thrive.[1]

The Bible says in Luke 16:10, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” If you want more you must be faithful in little. This principle of faithfulness can work for anyone.

  • If we are faithful with giving God will bring increase
  • If we are faithful with integrity God will bring increase
  • If we are faithful with ministry God will bring increase
  • If we are faithful with prayer God will bring increase

Our persistence and diligence toward God’s will in our lives will always bring reward. Never underestimate a small act of integrity and faithfulness. Do this:

  1. Be faithful where you are currently.
  2. Don’t complain.
  3. Always keep in mind promotion will manifest soon
  4. In everything you do, do it as to the Lord. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Follow God’s way and serve faithfully in whatever He has called you to do. Nothing is ever small when it is done for the Lord.

[1] [Ken Costa, Know Your Why, (Thomas Nelson, 2016)]

2/6/17 – What God Has Saved Us For – Samuel Burger

What God Has Saved Us For

One lovely moonlit night a grandfather and his small granddaughter went for a walk. The stars were magnificent. As the grandfather named individual stars and constellations, the granddaughter exclaimed, “Grandpa, if the bottom side of Heaven is this beautiful, just think how wonderful the top side must be.”

Heaven is definitely beyond our comprehension and every person who has yielded to God by faith is going there to be with Him. In the last blog, I wrote about the doctrine of hell and what God has saved us from if we yield to Him by faith. I want to write about what God has saved us for. The first thing He has saved us for is:

  1. Purpose – If you are reading this article, then you have purpose. Purpose means the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Thomas Carlyle said, “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder–a waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.” God has called you as sure as He has called Jeremiah mentioned in Jeremiah 1:8, “”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” You are not an accident or a mistake. You have been appointed to be a representative of God. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” His purpose is what lasts. God has created you with a purpose in mind. Don’t compare your life with others. God has a special purpose for you.
  2. Potential – Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, outfielder for the Atlanta Braves and cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons, is the only athlete to have hit a Major League home run and scored an NFL touchdown in the same week. Sanders grew up on the mean streets of Fort Myers, Fla., where exposure to some would-be athletes spurred him to make a success of himself. He explains: “I call them Idas. ‘If I’da done this, I’d be making three million today…If I’da practiced a little harder, I’d be a superstar.’ They were as fast as me when they were kids, but instead of working for their dreams they chose drugs and a life of street corners. When I was young, I had practice; my friends who didn’t went straight to the streets and never left. That moment after school is the moment we need to grab. We don’t need any more Idas.” The Omni-Potent God who lives in you can help you fulfill your potential. There’s nothing too hard for God. If you understand God is in control of your purpose then you can allow Him to work in you and through you.
  3. Power – When J. Wilbur Chapman was in London, he had an opportunity to meet General Booth, who at that time was past eighty years of age. Dr. Chapman listened reverently as the old general spoke of the trials and the conflicts and the victories. Then the American evangelist asked the general if he would disclose his secret for success. “He hesitated a second,” Dr. Chapman said, “and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his cheeks, and then he said, ‘I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me. There have been men with greater brains than I, men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do with the poor of London, I made up my mind that God would have all of William Booth there was. And if there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.’” Dr. Chapman said he went away from that meeting with General Booth knowing that, “the greatness of a man’s power is the measure of surrender.”

If you will surrender to the fact that God is your Creator, Redeemer and Planner of your life then you will live with purpose and potential that you could never muster on your own.

 

2/3/17 – What He Saved Us From – Samuel Burger

The topic of hell can be uncomfortable to talk about. People have many questions about the reality of hell but I wanted to write about this topic because it’s mentioned in the Bible. First, I want to tell you why I am writing this piece:

1. To warn you of the eternal consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
2. My desire is not to scare you to Jesus. The Bible says we are to believe God by faith. We are never supposed to live out of fear. God doesn’t want us to live in torment. We serve God out of a relationship with Him.
3. It’s a doctrine of the bible. We need to teach it regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.

The Old and New Testaments use 18 different words and figures to describe the doctrine of hell. While I won’t mention all 18 descriptions I will share with you a few Scriptures shedding light on the subject.

The final state of the wicked is described under the figures of eternal fire (Mt. 25:41)
The pit of the abyss (Rev. 9:2,11)
Outer darkness (Mt. 8:12)
Torment (Rev. 14:10-11)
Eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46)
Wrath of God (Rom. 2:5)
Second death (Rev. 21:8)
Eternal destruction from the face of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9)
Eternal sin (Mark 3:29)

We have no Biblical reason to say hell is just a metaphor or a symbol. This is a literal place.

There are four questions I want to answer on a Biblical basis:

1. Why is there a hell? In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said hell was a place prepared for the devil and his angels. We don’t belong there. If we go, we choose to go there.
2. Who is going there? In John 12:47-48, Jesus said that we would be condemned if we reject him. C.S. Lewis said, “Hell is God’s way of saying, ‘Have it your way.'”
3. How can I be sure of not going there? Jesus promises, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
4. How should we respond to this doctrine?

*We should be thankful because God has provided a way of escape for us all. The reality of hell should drive us to the infinite mercy of God through His Son Jesus Christ. You can never behave your way out of hell. It’s only by the grace of God you are saved and have a desire to live a righteous life.

*We should be deeply saddened by the people around us who don’t know who are on their way to hell. Does our heart break for those people? Do we really care?

*We should have an intense desire to rescue those who are perishing. You run into people everyday who don’t have an understanding of the reality of hell.

Another question to ask is, “Do we live in view of eternity?”

“Charles G. Finney, a young lawyer, was sitting in a village law office in the state of New York. Finney had just come into the old [attorney’s] office. It was very early in the day, and he was all alone when the Lord began to deal with him.

“ ‘Finney, what are you going to do when you finish your course?’

“ ‘Put out a shingle and practice law.’

“ ‘Then what?’

“ ‘Get rich.’

“ ‘Then what?’

“ ‘Retire.’

“ ‘Then what?’

“ ‘Die.’

“ ‘Then what?’

“And the words came tremblingly, ‘The judgment.’

“He ran for the woods a half mile away. All day he prayed, and vowed that he would never leave until he had made his peace with God.

“Finney came out of the woods that evening, after a long struggle, with the high purpose of living [for] the glory of God” (Knight, Master Book, 351).

My question to you is “Then what?” What will you do with this doctrine of hell?

“Unless we come to grips with the terrible doctrine of hell, we will never even begin to understand the depths of what Jesus did for us on the cross. His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, … When He cried out that God had forsaken him, He was experiencing hell itself.…

“When Jesus was cut off from God, He went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. And He did it voluntarily, for us” (Larson, Contemporary Stories, 56).

Lastly, I want to show you what the Bible does not teach:

1. Annihilationism: This view eliminates the truth of eternal punishment. If heaven is forever then hell is forever.
2. Probationism: This view teaches you have a second chance after you die. Now is the day of salvation.
3. Universalism: This view teaches everyone will eventually be saved, but the problem is that not everyone wants to be saved. We have free will.

Even if you didn’t believe in eternal punishment, it’s still absence from the presence of God. That thought ought to place a reverential fear in our hearts toward God.

According to 2 Peter 3:9, God doesn’t want you to perish. All you need to do is believe in Him. God knows you aren’t perfect. God knows you better than you know yourself. Be honest with Him. He won’t turn you away.

2/1/17 – Our Mission – Samuel Burger

In this blog, I want to share with you our vision, mission, values and specific goals for the next few years. It’s my desire that we will unite together under this vision and accomplish what God has called us to do. Before I share our goals with you I want to give you a report of what God has done this year.

1. Four people have been healed by Jesus this year!
2. One person gave their life to Jesus!

We are looking to baptize many more and we are excited about seeing more people join the body of Christ! Now I would like to share with you our overall vision.

Why we exist: “To reach the lost and teach the saved.”
Our desire: “To see our community and beyond transformed by Jesus Christ.”
How we will do it: “Since change starts with us, we have adopted seven core values to accomplish the mission and vision God has given us.”

1. I will worship
2. I will mature
3. I will serve
4. I will give
5. I will seek unity
6. I will pray
7. I will sacrifice

By living true to these values, we will see the gospel of grace spread like wildfire.

Another goal we have is to eliminate our mortgage as soon as we can in order to

*Give More
*Do More
*Reach More

1. We want to allocate what we pay in debt directly to ministry and mission.
2. We don’t want to be about mortgage and maintenance, but about ministry and missions.
3. We don’t want years of lost ministry opportunities sacrificed on the altar of debt.

By removing the debt, we will invest in:

1. Children’s ministry. The children are the church of today. What we do for them today will matter tomorrow. We want to be better equipped to meet the spiritual and felt needs of the children’s ministry such as curriculum, food, possibly another facility and funding special trips.

2. Youth ministry. The bible says that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. I believe in this generation and I believe that when we give to this generation we will see a move of God like we have never seen before. We would like to be better equipped to meet their needs. If a child can’t afford to go to youth camp we will provide funds in order for them to do so. When it pertains to their walk with God we are interested in helping them.

3. Benevolence Fund: We have a desire to meet the needs of families who may be struggling. As a compassion ministry, we want to show the love of Jesus to the poor and needy.

4. Add on to the community building: Every time we have a function we overflow the building. We want to build on so we can comfortably fit every one in the building.

5. Missions and Evangelism: Missions is the heart of God. As we support local missions from the church, we also desire to support other missionaries and Christian organizations. Since God’s heart is to the Jew first, we want to support Jewish missions.

I ask you from the bottom of my heart to partner with others to implement these core values in our lives. By doing so, we will reap a harvest of souls into the kingdom of God.

1/25/17 – The Power of Serving – Samuel Burger

The Power of Serving
I once read about a person who falsely claimed he was a soldier in the army while wearing a deceased soldier’s uniform. However, a true soldier called him out on the inconsistencies of his uniform. The soldier yelled, “Stolen Valor,” a reference to the Stolen Valor Act, a law passed making anyone caught reaping tangible benefits from impersonating a service member subject to federal criminal charges. 

The problem with this person is that he wanted status over service. It was only a matter of time before he got caught. He wanted the servant’s position but not the servant’s attitude. There are people who want recognition and reward instead of humility and submission. Are you serving to get a position or are you serving because of God’s rightful position in your life? 
Jesus stated His mission in Matthew 20:28. “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
We are to be marked by servanthood. Here are three signs you have a servant’s heart:
1.       You serve selflessly. Matthew 20:20-22 reads, “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” Did you notice the reason behind this request was a desire for personal advancement? We must serve without expectations.
2.       You serve submissively. Matthew 20:23 reads, “So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” Jesus totally committed to the Father’s will. He was ready to serve all the way to the cross.
3.       You serve sacrificially. Jesus gave His life and we are to pick up our cross and follow Him. This is the definition of greatness and leadership.
Leonard Bernstein, the celebrated orchestra conductor, was once asked, “What is the hardest instrument to play?” Without a moment’s hesitation he replied, “Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists. But to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn, or second flute, now that’s a problem! And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”[1]
Perhaps we could find harmony by serving one another? Don’t you think?


[1] Ben Patterson, “A Faith Like Mary’s,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 87.

1/23/17 – Breakup To Breakthrough – Samuel Burger

You’ve got to have a breakup before you can have a breakthrough. These are the words the Lord gave me today. Our breakthrough is dependent upon our decision to breakup with what holds us back spiritually.

A breakthrough is the work of God manifesting a miracle or deliverance in a person’s life. However, we must make the decision to completely breakup with whatever is holding us back.

God wants us to breakup with old habits, old sins and old alliances. God only moves through a surrendered and committed heart. God says, “I want a relationship with you but if you refuse to breakup with unbelief there won’t be a breakthrough.”

I have found that people give up right before their breakthrough. They get tired of praying and serving God because they think their breakthrough is out of reach. It reminds me of the parable of the sower. In Mark chapter 4, Jesus refers to the seed as the word of God and the sower is the one who plants the word of God. The soil is about the receptivity of the word of God. In verse 16-17 Jesus says, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure for only a time. Afterwards, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

There are people who give up when the least amount of trouble comes their way. You’ve got to keep going strong until you’ve gotten a breakthrough. Paul said in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

The harvest is your breakthrough. If you keep planting and nurturing the seed you will see the seed breakthrough the ground and get a harvest!

That’s why you’ve got to keep on giving, praying and worshipping! You’ve got to keep on keeping on!

Breakup with what’s holding you back and press toward your breakthrough. It was Jacob who wrestled with a Man in Genesis 32:24-26. Jacob told Him, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!”

Jacob was blessed. Some of you are letting go to soon! You need to press through the crowd like the woman who had the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48). She was determined to get to Jesus.

God says, “Because you won’t breakup with old thinking you can’t discern the doors of opportunity I put in your lap.” You can’t think the same way and get different results.

It’s time to breakup! You’ve been in bondage with negativity and drama too long! Some of you may have a boyfriend or girlfriend that’s keeping you back spiritually. If they don’t want God or His family then breakup. Your breakthrough is right around the corner!

The moment you breakup with what displeases God will be the start of your breakthrough! Glory to God! You must make a decisive commitment. God will move for those who let Him.

You’ve got to breakup before you breakthrough.

1/15/17 – Don’t Look Back – Dennis Johnson

In Genesis 18 and 19, God was sending two angels to the town of Sodom because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah was “so great and their sins were so grave.” He was going to have the city destroyed.  Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city if there were 50 righteous in the city. God said yes. He then asked if he would spare the city if there were 45, then 40, then 30, 20, and finally 10. God agreed that if 10 righteous people were found, then he would spare the city for the sake of the 10. As the angels arrived in the city, they did not find 10 that were righteous. Not only that, but when they arrived and were greeted by Lot and were invited into Lot’s house to spend the night and eat, the men of the city came to the house and wanted Lot to send them out to “know them carnally” as it is stated in the NKJV. Lot tried to stop the men by offering up his daughters just so the men wouldn’t prove that the destruction that was coming was justified. They then turned and were about to hurt Lot when the angels pulled Lot in the door to save him. They instructed Lot to warn all of his family to leave because they were about to destroy the city. Lot’s sons-in-law laughed as Lot warned them because they didn’t believe him. As morning came, the bible says the angels warned Lot again telling him to get his wife and two daughters out of the town, lest they be consumed in the punishment of the city. Still, they lingered, so the angels took hold of Lot, his wife and his two daughters’ hands and brought them out and sat them down outside of the city. They told them again to Escape for your life and “Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” When Lot and his family had safely entered the city of Zoar, the Lord rained brimstone and fire on the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all of the inhabitants of the land were destroyed. But Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

As I read these accounts, I catch myself getting frustrated with Lot and his family. God is trying to save their lives and tells them numerous times to get out. Even before they got the verbal warnings, they knew who God was, and what was expected of His people, yet they allowed themselves to be surrounded by the evil that was in the town and didn’t leave. So he sends his angels. The angels arrive and Lot recognizes that they are different. He knows that they aren’t ordinary men. He knows they are sent from God. This is the time we see that all of the things going on around Lot aren’t just things he was ignorant of. He immediately goes into protection mode and has them come to his house to be safe. I can almost feel the shame he must have felt to know that the angels were there and could see what he is letting go on in his life and the compromises he has made in this city. An altercation occurs, they save him and tell him to get his people and go. But he still doesn’t leave. What in the world is wrong with this guy? Morning comes, they tell him again. Still stalling. Finally, they have to grab them by their hands and physically move them out of the city and tell them go to the mountains and don’t look back. All of this reluctance, for what? Worldly possessions? And if that’s not enough, Lot’s wife has to still hang on to the memories of these said possessions and take one more peek. And then, for her, it’s all over. No more opportunities to be had. No more chances to go.

So after my frustration, I think about my life. We are given the gift of salvation. When I got saved and every time I repent, I have that same feeling of shame about the things I have let go on. I feel guilty for the compromises I have made to make things easier. I start to understand how Lot and his wife may have felt. But when God releases us from the hold of sin, we are to let them go and not look back. We are to move forward knowing that He has forgiven us and even better, in Hebrews 8:12 it says our sins and lawless deeds He will remember no more.

I pray that we can all learn to let go of our past and stop letting our past sins decide our future. Let go of the old man and put on the new. I just heard a preacher describe doing this by comparing it to a prisoner being released from prison. He doesn’t wear his prison suit anymore. He has been set free and puts on new clothes to start a new life. That’s what we need to do. Don’t let your past sins or compromises destroy you. Leave ALL of your old sins in a pile and don’t look back.

Be blessed.

-DJ

1/12/17 – Fixing The Fight – Jordan Houston

Fixing The Fight

I remember when I was younger, my youth group leader told a story about a farmer and his 2 dogs, one white dog and one black dog.  Every Saturday, the farmer would take his dogs to the dog fight in town. People would place bets on which dog would win.  Sometimes the black one would win, sometimes the white one would win, but the farmer always won.  People kept asking him how he did it until he finally revealed his secret.  All week long, he would feed one dog and starve the other.  Whichever dog he fed was always the winner.

As I was contemplating what to write, I was telling Pastor Sam that writing doesn’t come as easy for me as it once did.  When I was in school, sometimes we’d have to write creatively for assignments.  Since I had to do it anyway, I made my stories funny just to entertain myself and I found out my teachers were usually entertained by them, as well.  Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing so much and my creative side become overshadowed by my analytical/logical side because that was the side of my brain that I was using the most.  That’s the side I was feeding.

There’s always a battle going on within us as Christians.  Our flesh is always fighting with our spirit.  We want to do good but our flesh wins and we end up sinning anyways.  The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7: 14-20:

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
 New American Standard Bible

Just like the farmer that fed one dog while starving the other, we need to starve the flesh and feed the spirit so the spirit can win the fight.  We can feed the spirit by reading our Bibles, spending time alone with the Lord in prayer, fasting, and fellowshipping with other believers. We can starve the flesh by being careful what we’re watching, reading, and listening to, choosing the things that glorify the Lord over the things of the world, and avoiding the temptations and desires that we know are not pleasing to Him.  We can fix the fight just like the farmer did.  It’s up to us to decide which dog is going to win.

 

1/11/17 – Priorities – Sam Burger

Priorities

If you have your priorities in order you’ll see the will of God flow in your life. The Bible teaches about priorities. God admonishes us to seek Him first and things will come together in our lives. We have all at one time or another put the cart before the horse. In other words, we tried to make things happen in our own efforts by seeking other things first. 

I was reading preaching magazine and came upon this letter about priorities written by a pastor. 

“In 1988, Greg Simmons, a brilliant young businessman whose ideas helped revolutionize American life insurance, flew to New York to make a presentation to Board members of AT&T. It was a deal with a commission potential worth more than one million dollars. At the last minute, the AT&T CEO was delayed. He requested that Greg make his proposal the following day. Greg politely explained that was not possible. ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘is my daughter’s fifth birthday. I promised her I’d be at her party.’ 

“For Greg Simmons, his daughter’s birthday party was more important than a million-dollar deal. I wonder how many big-time CEOs have played second fiddle to a little girl’s birthday party. I also wonder if Greg had any idea he would die in a mountain fall a few months later. 

“Priorities! At the time, some people said Greg’s priorities were all out of whack. But when you stop and think about it, none of us knows when we might attend the last birthday party for someone whose love we value beyond price. I was Greg’s pastor. He was my best friend. His example of well-placed priorities taught me a lesson I hope I never forget!”

I hope this is a lesson for us too. Let’s always be mindful of what is important and valuable. What’s your priorities? 

1/7/17 – Prophetic Declaration – Samuel Burger

Prophetic Declaration

Have you ever heard of the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel chapter 37? This factual story amazes me because of the intensity Ezekiel must’ve felt. He’s in a valley surrounded by bones of individuals and God asks him if those bones can live. The prophet said, “O Lord God, You know.”

Then God asks Ezekiel to prophesy to those bones. So He speaks directly to the dry bones word for word on what God told him to say. As Ezekiel was making a prophetic declaration, there was a noise and a rattling. The bones came  together and the skin covered them. Finally, at God’s command, Ezekiel prophetically declared that there would be breath in those bodies. Then what happened?

They stood on their feet and lived.

What was the point of this supernatural act? God was giving Ezekiel a concrete example of how He will restore Israel to their land after they have been saying, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off.”

However, there was a link between Ezekiel’s prophetic declaration and the will of God. Prophecy is simply proclaiming God’s kingdom will in the earth. Prophetic declaration is so powerful that Jesus mentioned it in Mark 11:23-25. Solomon said that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Your words have creative power and when you match your words to God’s words there is a shift in the spiritual atmosphere.

Your breakthrough deliverance is found between God’s word and your prophetic declaration. As sons of God, we not only have asking power but affirming power. We must affirm what God has already did through prophesying.

Your miracle isn’t just around the corner. It’s actually in your mouth.

Everyday people are prophesying but it’s not always for God. Just take a listen to your co-workers, family and friends. Many people prophesy what Satan wants by complaining, etc. Listen to what they are saying. Pray for them. Equally important, pray for yourself!

As one minister put it, “Nothing ever happens in the kingdom without declaration.” It doesn’t matter who you are you can use your words to bring heaven’s reality into the earth!!! Go ahead and prophesy. Believe and confess the promises of God.

9/22/16 – Already – Samuel Burger

“Already”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

   1. The Father already blessed us

John Flavel gives a great illustration he heard on justification. I think it is a great illustration on what it means to be already blessed in Christ Jesus.

“My friend Dr. Roy Gustafson has the finest illustration of justification I have ever heard. It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” That is justification.”

As believers, we aren’t trying to get something from God but have already received from God. We need to agree with Him through our words of faith that every spiritual blessing is already ours in Christ Jesus.  

In regards to blessing the Father for what He has done Charles Spurgeon makes this statement:

“We are not sitting here, and groaning, and crying, and fretting, and worrying, and questioning our own salvation. He has blessed us; and therefore we will bless him. If you think little of what God has done for you, you will do very little for him; but if you have a great notion of his great mercy to you, you will be greatly grateful to your gracious God.” Praise God!

   2. The Father already blessed us with every spiritual blessing

I don’t know how many spiritual blessings there are but I know justification is one mighty blessing! All you Bible scholars try to think of every spiritual blessing you can think of at this moment. If you did God still has more left! Thank the Lord for temporal blessings but we thank Him even more for endless spiritual blessings

   3. The Father already blessed us in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

The location of our blessings is in Christ who is in heaven. The Holy Spirit came down and dwells in us so these spiritual blessings will bear witness in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has awakened us to the “already.” We should live daily in the “already.” If we never live in the “already” we will never live successfully in the present. We will never have confidence for the future if we don’t understand the “already.” We aren’t trying to get to heaven, we have “already” received heaven as a down-payment of our inheritance He “already” gave us. Many hardships and many difficulties from the flesh and the enemy but we always live in the “already.” Praise the Lord!  

 

8/9/16 – God Helps You Obey Him – Samuel Burger

Genesis 22:1-19
God Helps Us Obey Him

Introduction:

Have you been through a test before? Did you doubt that you could make it through the test? I’m sure you are no stranger to difficulty but what if I told you that God can provide you with the means necessary for you to obey Him through the tests of life? If you rely upon His word and trust Him, you will find His provision. There are times when God tests us but He provides us with the strength necessary to get through it and rewards us at the end of the test. We will find in this chapter of how God dealt with Abraham. We will discover that God’s dealing with Abraham is similar in how God deals with us as believers. If you look at Abraham, you will find the same principle of testing in your own life. I pray that this message will give you an understanding of how God wants to help you through the tests of life. We see that in the first verse that…
1.       The Test of Obedience V1-12

Abraham is tested by God. As believers, we experience testing times in our lives. The purpose of these trials is to confirm our faith. In James 1:2-3, James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” The trying or testing of our faith gives us patience. What does patience mean? Patience is the quality of forbearance and self-control which shows itself particularly in a willingness to wait upon God and his will. Abraham is passing the test because he is prepared by the promises of God and the promises of God has prepared Him for this particular test. What was the main promise God gave Abraham? We can read the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. It reads, “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Abraham knew that God cannot lie as Numbers 23:19 and Titus 1:2 tell us. Abraham had faith in God’s character. Abraham lived by the promises of God and not by what he naturally saw. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to live by faith and not by sight. Paul writes in Hebrews 11:8 on Abraham’s faithful obedience, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”He also mentions Abraham’s faith offering up Isaac in Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Abraham’s faith was rooted in what God had told him beforehand and not in what he saw. He was patient because he knew God was able to raise Isaac up from the dead. It was through Isaac that the Seed would be born in order to provide redemption.

         This particular point in Abraham’s life is a representation of the tests we go through as believers. We know God doesn’t tempt anyone because James 1:13 says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” God will never tempt us to do wrong but He tests us as believers to do right. Peter also had something to say about testing in 1 Peter 4:12-13, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” So don’t think the tests are given to disprove you but to prove your faith.

However, God not only tests us but He allows us to be tempted. Notice I said, “Allowed.” God doesn’t tempt us but He allows temptation. Look at the example of Job in Job 1:6-12, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” Biblically speaking, God tests us and He allows temptation to come to us. He doesn’t tempt us to do evil.

          Warren Wiersbe shares wisdom on testing and temptation. “Learn to distinguish between trials and temptations. Temptations come from our desires within us (James 1:12-16), while trials come from the Lord who has a special purpose to fulfill. Temptations are used by the Devil to bring out the worst in us, but trials are used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us.”
2.       The Provision of Obedience V13-14
 
At the end of the test, Abraham discovers God is Jehovah-Jireh, meaning, “The Lord Will Provide.” You’ll always discover a new aspect of God at the end of the test. Instead of Isaac being sacrificed, God provided a ram in his place. Isn’t it refreshing to know that the Lamb of God took our place? Jesus became the substitutionary sacrifice to redeem us. As the ram became the substitute so did Jesus become our substitute to redeem us from the power of sin, death and the grave. Hebrews 5:8 states, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” His obedience is our salvation and He learned obedience through suffering. Obviously, this is a type of what is to come. As Abraham offered his only son on Mount Moriah so did God send His only Son on Mount Calvary which is the same mountain range. Abraham seen the whole picture. He got a glimpse of the redemptive plan of God. Friends, God will provide you with the strength to obey His will. He will give you the strength to live in total surrender to His plan if you will trust in Him like Abraham did. If God can provide the sacrifice necessary to save you then He can provide you with the strength necessary to obey Him. His provision is always linked to obedience.
I read a story of Dr. Robert Schindler and his wife. They founded a mission hospital associated with radio station ELWA in Monrovia, Liberia. In their book Mission Possible they wrote, “For us, it was a continued exercise of faith that we would have the right drugs and supplies at the right time. We recall how much we counted on our X-ray machine, something we take for granted [at home]. We even had the opportunity to get an extra one when a friend of ours, a doctor with the U.S. Embassy, asked if we could use a portable X-ray machine. But then as the months dragged out, we knew it must be lost at sea. Then one day our big X-ray machine stopped working. We found it was a major problem which would take several months to fix. But that very afternoon, the ELWA truck pulled up to the hospital with a huge crate from port. You guessed it—it was the portable X-ray machine! We plugged it in, and it worked! We didn’t lose a day for X-rays.” If you are on mission from God He will provide you with the means necessary to carry out His will. He did it for Abraham and Jesus and he will do it for you. The Lord will always provide for you. Your willingness to obey during the test will always be met by the provision of our sovereign God.
3.       The Reward of Obedience V15-19
Also, God desires to reward those who are obedient to Him. Abraham was rewarded according to verse 18. It states, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” If we obey His voice, we will see the reward. Abraham was willing to choose God over anything else. Friends, God knows what is best for you and if you live in total surrender to God’s will for your life you will never lose. Even though the command from God seemed illogical, Abraham obeyed. The trials you go through is never wasted because the reward is greater than the trial. 1 Peter 5:10 states, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” Job 23:10 harmonizes with this truth, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Today, we have the blessing of Abraham according to Galatians 3:13-14, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” If we live by faith alone we can receive all God has for us through Jesus Christ.
William Cowper wrote a hymn called, “The Lord Will Provide.”
The saints should never be dismay’d,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect His aid,
The Saviour will appear.This Abraham found: he raised the knife;
God saw, and said, “Forbear!
Yon ram shall yield his meaner life;
Behold the victim there.”Once David seem’d Saul’s certain prey;
But hark! the foe’s at hand;
Saul turns his arms another way,
To save the invaded land.When Jonah sunk beneath the wave,
He thought to rise no more;
But God prepared a fish to save,
And bear him to the shore.Blest proofs of power and grace divine,
That meet us in His Word!
May every deep-felt care of mine
Be trusted with the Lord.Wait for His seasonable aid,
And though it tarry, wait;
The promise may be long delay’d,
But cannot come too late.

Application:
Will you heed the call to salvation? God’s provision is stronger than any problem of sin. Are you worried? God has the answer. Are you paralyzed by fear? God has the answer. God is calling you sinner. What about those who are called to labor in the ministry? Are you still holding onto doubt? If God called you to it don’t you think He can provide you with His confidence? Don’t ignore the call of God. Obey like Abraham and you won’t lose. Surrender all to Him. Will you say, “Here I am” like Abraham? The provision is here and all you have to do is call upon Jesus to save you. Obey the call to salvation and the command to obey Him. You won’t lose. God will help you. Whatever situation you are in God will help you. He provides what you need but you need to place faith in Him. Come to the Provider. Let Him save you and use you as his willing vessel. Jehovah-Jireh can give you the strength obey Him if you trust in Him. Whatever the case, God provides.

8/2/16 – Follow Through – Samuel Burger

Follow Through

I remember playing basketball and my friends would tell me to follow through on my goal-shooting. They said if I would learn to follow through I would have a better chance scoring. The “follow-through” is all about continuing your arm movement after the ball is thrown. I played a better game because of it. My scoring was consistent because I didn’t let go of the ball too soon. I followed through.

When we are not confident in what God has called us to do or we halfway trust Him; we don’t follow through. We let go too soon. We give up too soon. Consider the Scriptures urging us to be consistent.

    • “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
  • “Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
  • “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
  • “As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.”
  • “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.”
  • “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”

Imagine being in Noah’s shoes. Noah was told to build a big boat because God was going to send a flood. Judgement was coming because God saw the earth was corrupt and filled with violence. Noah did everything God told him to do. God actually told Noah that he alone was righteous. Noah lead his family and was consistent in the will of God. His consistent relationship with God allowed him to follow through.

Abraham and Sarah were considerably old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac. However, Abraham didn’t waver at the promise of God. It was through Isaac that Jesus would be born. Abraham cooperated with the redemptive plan of God before Jesus was ever born. Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” Abraham was consistent.

Daniel kept praying after the Babylonian government decreed no one could pray to Daniel’s God. Daniel followed through and he reaped a harvest of blessings. Daniel was consistent and intentional with his relationship with God.

Jesus followed through with the Father’s will by taking our sins and giving us His righteousness. If we follow His example, then we will reap an untold harvest of blessings.

 

7/27/16 – Who Are You Living For? – Samuel Burger

“Who Are You Living For?”

Out of the 26,639 people who completed the 2016 Boston Marathon, 72-year-old Fran Drozdz finished 26,639th. Dead last. The roaring crowds and official coronations had departed. Workers were still tearing down the stands and barricades when she crossed the finish line at 8:45 p.m.

But the real story is not her last place finish; it’s about who she was running for. Drozdz has run in more than 75 marathons throughout her life, and she ran the Boston Marathon this year for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Her husband, who is currently battling cancer himself (for the third time), met her with a medal at the finish line. He had called the police earlier in the day, thinking his wife might have gotten lost or hurt. As one media outlet reported, “It turns out this race’s ‘loser’ is quite the winner.”

Who are you living for?

  • Job?
  • Self?
  • Others?
  • Popularity?

In the end, only what is done for Christ will last. Where are your priorities? What do you deem important? Are you living in complete abandon to the will of God?

No one likes to finish in last place. In any sport, last place is an embarrassment to most. However, in the journey with God, last place isn’t an embarrassment. It’s a joy. If I know I’m running for Christ, then that’s the only thing that matters. Jesus said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” It doesn’t matter how fast you get there. It only matters who you’re running for when you get there. I love the Scripture:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

It’s about endurance and if you keep your eye on Jesus you will find He has His reward with Him to give you. After all, He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Who are you living for?

7/17/16 – Devotional Standard – Elijah Phillips

DEVOTIONAL STANDARD

Way back when I was a young whipper-snapper and in school, every morning we had devotions. We had a small Christian school at our church. We would gather every morning and recite the pledges (to the American flag, The Christian flag, and the Bible), read our monthly Scripture passage, and pray. This is what we called devotions. It was time taken at the beginning of the day to exemplify our loyalty to our God, His word, and our country. I thank God for those moments! Although, we didn’t understand what was happening then, I definitely see it now. I have no doubt in my mind that the passages of scripture that I committed to memory during those moments have helped me keep up the fight when I thought about giving in. When I would think about calling it quits for good I would always remember Psalm 23, Psalm 1, Psalm 34 or Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Webster’s dictionary defines devotion as a feeling of strong love or loyalty; the quality of being devoted; the use of time, money, energy, etc., for a particular purpose

When you devote something for a purpose or cause, that thing becomes useless for anything else. If Nascar called and said, “We want to use your car as the Pace Car for the Daytona 500.” How many people are going to get in that car and drive it anywhere? A BIG, FAT ZERO! You won’t drive it, your spouse won’t drive it, your kids won’t drive it, and as a matter of fact you wouldn’t let your own mamma drive it to pick up her medication from the drugstore! That car is parked for the duration of time leading up to the Daytona 500. That car gets washed more, waxed more, tires shined, motor cleaned and upgraded, and guarded like the National Armory of the United States, all because it is now devoted to being the Pace Car for the Daytona 500.

“WE GO TO CHURCH ONCE A WEEK ON SUNDAY AND CALL THAT DEVOTION. WE GET UP, SPEND 5 MINUTES SAYING A CANNED PRAYER AND READ A COUPLE OF PAGES OUT OF BOOK AND CALL THAT DEVOTION. “

If this is our idea of devotion we don’t have a clue, and I am preaching to the choir, the preachers, the worship leaders, the pew setters, the pew jumpers, the aisle runners and myself included! We have downgraded the devotional standard to better suit our lifestyles. When Jesus walks up to us and says, “Follow Me” we can’t lug around the net and follow Him. We have to lay aside every weight and sin that easily entangles us and run with patience the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Now, what I’m not saying is that you become a monk and run off to the Himalayas. You don’t have to quit your job, divorce your spouse, and live every day of the rest of your life in seclusion. God wants you in the world. He wants you planted dead smack in the middle of the different cultures of this world. He wants you there because He wants to use you to change those cultures. We have been given an unshakable Kingdom (Hebrews 12:28) and when the unshakable Kingdom shows up through us in the culture, the culture begins to to reveal its shakiness. All of the sudden every culture that can be shaken will be shaken all because God was able to plant His sons and daughters, who carry the unshakable Kingdom, in the middle of a jacked up culture.

But none of this happens without complete and total, sold-out devotion. Ellen G. White said, “We do not belong to Christ unless we are His wholly. It is by half-heartedness in the Christian life that men become feeble in purpose and changeable in desire.” If everything we do isn’t saturated with the presence of God from a place of deep devotion then we aren’t “His wholly.” We are trying to follow God from a distance and distant followers make poor listeners. Distant, halfhearted followers are feeble in purpose because they don’t spend enough time in the presence of Jesus, hearing His words, and being filled with the knowledge of His will (Colossians 1:9). They are changeable in desire because the desire of their heart isn’t Jesus. Jesus hasn’t become the “one thing” in their life. When there is a singleness of the eye there is the ability to focus. When Jesus becomes your focal point and single desire then you have an unshakable, unchangeable desire. So when the culture around you starts falling apart and shaking you have the assurance of being a house built on the Rock!

So don’t diminish the devotional standard because it conflicts with your lifestyle. Sit at the feet of Jesus, spend time with Him, let His words fill you and transform you. The culture wants to put you in a mold and force you to conform, but Jesus is offering you the opportunity to be uniquely transformed! He wants you to be set apart and different!

 

7/15/16 – Point Makers and Difference Makers – Samuel Burger

“Point Makers And Difference Makers”

There is a time for making a point but there’s also balance. I’ve found that making a point about an issue doesn’t really make a difference unless you’re willing to do something. With all social media outlets, there are a barrage of opinions but it seems those opinions never leave the digital into the real.

Many people are guilty of this but I’d like to confess I’ve been guilty of this before. I would tell others what to do and how they should do it but I really didn’t take any action. I convinced myself that I was taking action but in reality I wasn’t. It’s kind of like the fans in the stands who criticizes the coach. The fans have never coached a day in their life yet they are experts. I have sorely fell short of this in my life. So how can we make a difference instead of being obsessive about making our point?

  1. Take Action. Do something. Too much analysis leads to paralysis. A minister never ministered unless he or she did something to obey the Lord. God moves through people who move.
  2. Become The Solution Of Your Point. Alright, you’ve made your point many times on FaceBook and to your friends. Have you done anything about it? I preached a message recently on “Being the Church.” I mentioned that we can state the problem repeatedly or we can be the church. You only get what you put into it. If you’re tired of the church not being the church then be the church. It’s very simple. Nobody else will be the solution to your point unless you put the energy in being the solution also.
  3. Your Idea Needs Implementation. You’ve got a bunch of ideas but for some reason they are never implemented. It’s either you don’t have time or you just have fear. Regardless of the reason, you will have to learn how to utilize the idea into something that’s practical.

Have you ever met people that talked a really long time? Have you seen people that was ready to pour out their problems to you only to have you listen to them while they have no desire to do anything about it? It’s amazing what happens when you decide to stop talking about it and do it. That’s what you call results. It’s good to plan and be deliberate before making life-changing decisions but don’t put off what God is telling you to do today. Be daring. Be bold. Be obedient.

Let your life make God’s point through the Spirit!

7/6/16 – Shine-Share-Shape – Samuel Burger

Witness

Shine-Share-Shape

God has called us to shine His light and to share His word that will shape others into the character of Jesus Christ. How we live and how we share His message will be proportionate in molding others to be like Christ.

God is actually making His appeal through us. His appeal is to restore people back to Himself. He saw fit to have human instruments be His ambassadors. God gives His urgent request through us to reach others. God isn’t looking for someone to make the appeal for Him but to allow Him to make the appeal through us. How exactly is God making His appeal?

1. Through the Bible which is God’s revelation to humanity. All 66 books work in harmony with a reaching overall theme: Redemption. It was written over a period of 1,500 years by a number of authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. God worked through human instruments to deliver His written word. Although believers bear witness of its validity by God’s Spirit, there is physical evidence, archeological evidence and internal consistency. The Bible is the key to understanding God’s eternal plan for everything. Without it, there’s no way we can know God’s appeal.
2. Through proclamation and teaching God’s word. Father God works in us and then through us. God has given the universal church with His gifts. Through these gifts, people are drawn to Father God by the Holy Spirit. We proclaim the Good News and we teach others how to speak and demonstrate the Good News. From evangelistic media to church meetings, God is constantly making His appeal everyday through human instruments. There’s not a day that goes by that He isn’t making His appeal.

Who will go? Who will be God’s ambassador? Who will stand in the gap? Why not you? Why not now?

6/28/16 – Getting Over The Hurt – Samuel Burger

“Getting Over The Hurt”

We, as the church, often deal with spiritual health and rarely on emotional health. This is why it’s possible to see very spiritual people with poor emotional health. Have you ever wondered why people “act that way?” I’m assuming you said yes. This is what I’ve learned when it comes to emotional hurt.

1. Hurt people often harbor a victim mentality or a victim spirit.

2. Hurt people perceive every word and action directed toward them through their area of pain.  This is why it can be difficult to discuss things with them.

3. Hurt people are enormously sensitive.

4. Hurt people often overreact with outrageous emotion.

5. Hurt people only see their pain and have no idea that they are hurting others.

6. Hurt people open the door to demonic activity such as a controlling spirit or a controlling

7. Hurt people aren’t aware that the same thing they’ve been hurt with is the same thing they are

8. Hurt people usually don’t have healthy relationships.

We cannot use the actions of others as an excuse for ungodly behavior. Anyone with poor emotional health use their hurt to determine all their decisions and how they treat others.

I remember as a kid I scraped my knee riding a bicycle. Well, my Mother put Hydrogen Peroxide on the wound. As the wound began to heal and scab within a few days, I began picking at the wound until it started bleeding again. I was interrupting the healing process because I wouldn’t let my body heal the wound! Hurt people stay hurt because they won’t let the wounds heal. They pick at the wound with bitterness, unforgiveness and rage. A wound that doesn’t heal will eventually infect and spread to other parts of the body. So the longer you stay wounded the more susceptible you are to get emotional infection. You need to stop picking at your wounds and let them heal. You can bleed to death.

It’s true that hurt people hurt people, but it’s also true that you can take that hurt to God in prayer. The Bible says to cast your cares upon God for He cares for you. You’ve got to release them and let it go. If you don’t, every area of your life, including relationships, will divide. Don’t let hurt become your identity.

The Bible teaches we are spirit, soul and body. Don’t neglect your emotional/soul well-being. We can be healed from all hurt in Jesus name.