Can You See?

Think about this with me: Jesus had just healed a man that was born blind by giving him sight (John 9). Yet there were those who did not like it because they had their way, their beliefs, and their religion. How dare this man named Jesus go against what they believed. Never mind the great news about a man who was now able to see for the first time in his life. It was a great story and you would think the religious leaders would have been happy, yet they were not because they were blinded to the truth. They did not want to see it because they wanted control and demanded their way even though it was contrary to God’s way. Here is what I want to emphasize, God was among them doing what only God could do, but they rejected because they had to have their way. Talk about being blind.

What must it had been like for this man to see for the first time? Can you imagine with me the scene as the healed man looked on his neighbors for the first time yet some of them could not believe their own eyes about him? What irony. Through God’s mercy and power the man who had been blind since birth could now see, yet the Pharisee’s questioned the man’s parents and kept pressing him because they wanted to discredit Jesus. His response was not what they were looking for because the fact was Jesus did what only God could do. They hated that. They rejected Jesus. They only wanted their way no matter what. So, even though Jesus had mercy on this man and caused him to be able to see, they kicked him out of the synagogue. The only thing the blind man knew was that he once was blind but now he could see.

I want to ask those of you who are Christians something right now: Are you open to what God wants or do you resist so that you may have “control” and have your way? If your prayers are more about explaining to God what you are doing instead of asking what God wants you to do, then you don’t understand what being a Christian is all about. We need to remember that He is God and we are not. Who are we to tell God how it is instead of seeking His will? We need to come to Him admitting that we don’t have all the answers, in fact, we should be in the habit of constantly being open to God’s way and willing to wait on whatever God leads us to do. My fear in 2019 is we are not really interested in anything except what our feelings tell us and what we want. If we do not seek God’s will and only want our will then we are literally asking God to come to us on our terms; we are basically saying “I want my way and I am not open to anything else. I am not going to let go of something that means so much to me, so God it would be nice if you bless what I am doing, but if you do not then I am doing it my way.” We are blind when we do not want to see anything but what we want, what we feel, or what we think. Sounds like the Pharisee’s resisting what God did to the blind man does it not?

Being a Christian means denying self (give up all rights), taking up our cross (includes death to self and suffering), and following Jesus (after we deny self and take up our cross); not demanding our way, taking the path of least resistance that our emotions sense, and then asking God to follow us (Luke 9:17). The truth is it is impossible to please God without faith. Denying self and letting go is tough, it requires faith, but if we want God to bless then we must come to Him on His terms even if that means letting go of our way. When was the last time you let go of your way and made changes because God led you in another direction?

The Pharisees missed the truth because they stubbornly demanded their way and resisted God’s way, and because of this, they kicked the blind man out of the synagogue. Please do not be guilty of kicking God’s way out because you are too stubborn to see things any other way. Don’t miss out on God’s blessings because you are demanding your way no matter what. A lot of times God’s way will be different from our way, and His ways are higher than our ways because He is God (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is the Creator and we are the created. He is perfect and we are not. He is unlimited are we are so limited. It is always best to seek the Lord and make sure our way is lining up to His instead of leaving God out and asking Him to line up with us.

After the man was kicked out of the synagogue, I love this, Jesus pursued him. There were those who had given up on him but Jesus was not one of them. Jesus went to him and did not waste time asking the most important question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man believed and he not only got physical sight but he also received spiritual sight through faith in Jesus. Of all the things that we do in life, the only thing that matters is what we do with Jesus. The Pharisees rejected and sadly, some 2,000 years later they are still suffering from their rejection and will continue to for all eternity. They are separated from God forever with no hope and no mercy. On the contrary, the man that received his sight, the one they kicked out of the synagogue, is in the presence of the One He believed in right now, and will be forever with the Lord in a perfect place called heaven. What about you? I pray that God will open the eyes of your heart. Believe on Him right now, and like the man that was able to see, you’ll be glad you did 2,000 years from now.

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I Need Thee…National Day Prayer

“I Need Thee Every Hour” for National Day of Prayer. We all want control as individuals and as a nation. Sometimes we feel as though we are self sufficient and we don’t need the Lord. Whether we realize it or not, we not only need the Lord every hour, we can’t even walk without Him.

I know many who are reading this are tired and hurting. I just want you to know I’m thinking of you right now and more importantly, I’m praying for you. God is faithful and He is able. Let’s all pray for each other and our nation that we each would realize our need to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark

A True Privilege!

LFBC youth

As I reflect back to this powerful moment from a few years ago with the students of LFBC, it makes me realize how blessed we are as members of God’s family! Let me encourage all Christians to never take for granted being a part of the church, having the privilege of prayer, and having the privilege of knowing Jesus more. We have these everlasting privileges because Jesus paid it all! I know we’re all busy, but making time to be with your church family is really the most important part of your week. Let me encourage you to be at your church this Sunday, you need it and your fellow brother and sister in Christ needs it. We need to grow spiritually together and that is seriously hindered when we miss meeting together with our church family.

No, church is not about seeing someone or being seen; it’s all about looking to Jesus and growing closer to Him through praise, prayer, and the Word! It really is the most powerful, most satisfying, and most lasting time on earth. Don’t miss out! “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”
(Hebrews 10:25).
Love in Christ,
Pastor Mark

Create in me a clean heart O God!

cleanheart

Why does it seem that God is not listening to our prayers? It may be that we don’t have a clean heart. It’s true that when we place our faith in Jesus we have right standing with God, and that will never change, but disobedience in our lives will effect our fellowship with God including our prayer lives. Disobedience will always keep us from a close walk with Jesus every time, and that is not God’s fault. The only thing that will help us get closer walk with Jesus is not necessarily reading more Scripture, praying longer, attending church more…first we must have a talk with Jesus confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) so that God will cleanse our hearts (Psalm 51:10). When we have a clean heart and a closer walk with the Lord then our prayers will get above the ceiling.

I like what Pastor Greg Laurie wrote in a devotional about having a clean heart, “Unconfessed sin in our lives will stop our prayers from being answered. The psalmist wrote, ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear’ (Psalm 66:18). We can pray with passion. We can pray with faith. We can pray with all of the gusto we have. But if there is an area in our lives that is not right before God, then our prayers will not be heard.”

In this “me-first” and “me-centered” day we might hear people say, “how dare God not hear MY prayer!” Instead we ought to say, “how dare me to allow the very things that Jesus died for to enter my heart and life.” How’s your prayer life? When we intentionally include confession in our prayers before we ask anything we will see a difference.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

What a great week!

missionweek_15

As I parked the bus a few minutes ago and made my way across the lawn at LFBC to my Jeep it hit me…Mission week is over. There were no kids in the lawn playing kick ball or freeze tag and no sounds of laughter and shouts of joy – just silence. The buses weren’t lined up ready to take our group somewhere to minister in Jesus name. The Fellowship Hall that had been filled with kids making cards and goody bags is now empty. The kitchen where volunteers worked to provide us with great lunches is also empty. Yeah I’m kinda sad that it’s over yet at the same time I’m overwhelmed with joy at all the cherished memories of the good work our group did for the glory of God.

Oh I loved each day this week watching our kids and students reach out to others because of God’s love! May we continue to focus on reaching out to others and loving others beyond this week, and may our work be contagious in our church family because people need the comfort of God. Like the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Thank you everyone who participated in any way to make our Mission Week an incredible experience! I’m so proud of everyone and I love each of you more than you’ll ever know! Love in Christ, Pastor Mark

The Day is Coming

Well I lay here in my bed this morning writing this article because of a kidney stone. Isn’t it amazing how something only 2mm can cause such pain and misery! When I think of pain I’m reminded of the day when there will be no more pain, the day when I see my Lord and Savior face to face and I will be like Him. The Apostle John wrote:

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:1-2).

Imagine that day when we will see Him as He is, the One Who paid it all for us, the One Who defeated sin, death, hell, and the grave! I’m grateful that though we face hardships, trials, burdens, pains, fears, hurts, tragedies…in this world all of these are only temporary for believers. As 1 John 3 reminds us, a glorious day that will result in seeing Jesus and being like Jesus will happen because of the greatest love that was given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8). I believe that Christians won’t truly appreciate God’s amazing love until we see Him as He is! There’s no doubt that we all have our share of hardships and disappointments but thank God there is a better day coming! Jesus told us that we would face troubles in this world, but thank God He also told us to “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Let me encourage all Christians today that what we currently possess no one, no group, not even the devil himself can take away from us. My heart breaks for those who believe that the answer can be found in this world or found in fulfilling their desires; the truth is things like that doesn’t last, won’t satisfy, and leaves you empty. They are seeking to find the fulfillment and joy that can only come through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus. No they don’t realize this because they are blinded, but as believers we know of this satisfaction that the Apostle Peter called “joy unspeakable” (1 Peter 1:8). Just like something as small as a kidney stone can bring such pain, may each of us who may think we are too small to make a difference do our part to show people the joy unspeakable that we have in Christ for the glory of God.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Mark

Back to the Ole Routine?

Last week I enjoyed some time away with my family while the kids were on spring break, and boy did we ever have a wonderful time! Isn’t it amazing how those times are the quickest weeks of the year? This morning when the alarm went off my first though was “time to get back into the old routine.” We are creatures of habit which is not really a bad thing because a routine that works each day gets us going and helps us see accomplish our daily tasks. But what about a spiritual routine?

A routine in our spiritual lives could lead to a focus on mechanics and going through the motions instead of a close personal walk with the Lord from our hearts. One consequence of “going through the motions” is getting over what Jesus did and continues to do for us. I pray that God will deliver us from a callused heart towards our Lord and Savior that can result from the same ole routine. I challenge every believer in Jesus to take time every day to think about the cross of Calvary and give God thanks every day for His Great love, his Great mercy, and His great power that saved us.

I can’t think of a better day to keep our relationship with Jesus fresh than on the Monday after Easter. I’m sure most of us took time during Easter to remember the cross and celebrate the empty tomb. Let’s not allow days to become months before we give thanks and praise to the Lord for all He did for us. His sacrifice on the cross is still effective and praise God the tomb is still empty! Let’s keep this fresh in our hearts and minds and never get over it! Just like Peter who went away from the tomb amazed, may we stay amazed at what our Lord and Savior has done for us (Luke 24:12).

Love in Christ,

Mark