Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: June Devotional

Sword Play

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

At a recent bible study, the discussion centered on a believer’s strategy to overcome the ever present temptation to doubt. Defining doubt as, “to be uncertain, be apprehensive, to question or be hesitant to believe something or someone”, doubt was dubbed a major player in Satan’s arsenal to subvert the underpinnings of faith and love.

Not to be outwitted or outdone by Lucifer’s poisoned arrows of doubt, we returned that night to faith as our shield of defense and the Scriptures as our sharpened sword. And what a powerful and proven panoply of weaponry it is! For with such armor, we found every insidious device to dissuade or devise doubt was forthrightly disarmed by the power of God’s word. And for practicality and courage sake, we found that power residing presently in the castle of our own hearts!

So with renewed confidence and warrior mind, we bivouacked that night in the land of God’s eternal promises. Withstanding the usual anxiety and frustration of present circumstances (and some situations, trust me, bordered hopeless and impossible!), we countered our foe by feasting copiously and fearlessly in the Land of indescribable milk and honey!

Was every hurt remedied that night as we meditated on the Word? Did every situation meliorate as the scriptures were expounded? Did every distressing circumstance improve immediately as we prayed and trusted the faithfulness of God? Did the group fall out in a trance, or everyone have an out-of-the-body experience?

Nope. Sure didn’t.

But you know what did happen? Read the rest of this entry »

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Poem For the Fathers

Through you we learn about the Heavenly Father’s love. You’re a clear reflection of Him though He’s seated above.

You are His hands and feet on the earth; made in His image, created for purpose from birth.

You lead your family with wisdom and the utmost care. You hold things together on your knees in prayer.

You sacrifice to provide without recognition. You’re devoted and consistent; truly a man on a mission.

You’ve taught your arrows the gospel story- that their lives were created to ultimately bring Him glory.

You protect and defend your family. Your presence and support is our beautiful reality.

You’ve shown your children that in the face of any giant they have the courage to be bold as lions.

They learn so much by watching you. Through your life they see real life rescue.

They see that when you fall and begin to call, God always shows up and His strength isn’t small.

We know you juggle a lot and carry much weight. Please know our respect for you is exceedingly great.

Our heroes are often the strong and silent type with no gold medals or social media hype.

They don’t get a parade or the front page in the paper but make no mistake their reward will be greater.

For our heroes this morning may not wear red, white, or blue. Our heroes this morning are all of you.

From the bottom of our heart, thanks. Impact Church stands to applaud you.

What Amazes the Amazing One?

“When Jesus heard it, He marveled…” (Matthew 8:10)

Ever thought about the wonder-inspiring life of Jesus? We sing about His amazing grace, and rightfully so, but let’s reflect for a bit on His days with dusty feet and sweaty brow as a First Century human.

Time and time again through the gospels, we read that Jesus left people speechless with their jaws dropped open! When He made crippled men walk and dumb men speak and blind men see, the Jewish multitudes marveled. The villagers who watched Him grow up as a carpenter’s son were dumbfounded at this common man’s education and knowledge. “We’ve never seen anything like this in Israel!” they said.

Even those who set themselves against Jesus, the religious leaders of the day and their hired henchmen, were astonished at His authoritative teachings and had no answer for Him. “Nobody has ever spoken like this man speaks!” they said.

While others were amazed with Jesus’ words, Pontius Pilate marveled at His silence and self-control.

And those closest to Jesus, His own hand-picked disciples, repeatedly were left scratching their heads when their Master defied their expectations by talking to an unclean woman at a Samaritan well or by cursing a barren fig tree or by rebuking turbulent winds and waves. “Wow! What kind of man is this?!?”

Needless to say, the Greek word “thaumazo” (meaning to marvel or wonder) was used more than 30 times by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If Jesus were walking in flesh among us today, we might say He “dropped the mic” on a regular basis and left audiences stunned everywhere!

But have you ever wondered what makes the One called Wonderful wonder? What amazes the Author of amazing grace? What makes Jesus say “Whoa!”? Read the rest of this entry »

Well-Watered

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

I prefer to water my flowers early in the morning as the sun is rising to take its prominent position in the sky. I pour from the watering can until water overflows from the bottom and spills across my sidewalk. I fill to the point of excess because I know the afternoon is coming. The temperatures will inevitably rise and before the day ends the sun’s harsh rays will have direct access. There is nowhere to hide from the heat once afternoon arrives, but when the roots are well-watered they endure the heat with remarkable resilience.

As I was reading Isaiah 58 I was struck by the beauty of the promise found in verse 11. It says, “you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  As I studied the scriptures my heart leapt and I thought, “I want to be like a well-watered garden, too!” If I am totally honest though, I haven’t always run to the right source to satisfy my thirsty soul. I’ve ran to Instagram and popular Christian blogs to read good words when my Bible offers me God’s words. I’ve ran to people to receive affirmation when God’s approval of me is settled. Running to anything but God will always leave us spiritually dehydrated.

There is a better way.

There is hope for every dry place in our hearts. There is bread and water to receive from God’s word. Read the rest of this entry »

Stay the Course. Be the Light.

Acts 27:14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15) and when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

More often than not, counsel neglected in calm waters is remembered with remorse when waves get choppy. For as the soft breezes promoted the Captain’s unwise decision to depart Lasea and sail to Phenice, so a menacing storm roared in, confirming Paul’s clear advice to stay put. Yet, what can the godly do when the ungodly hold the wheel of the boat we board? And what recourse do the wise have when the unwise have the numbers, the clout, and the might?

Well, when we find ourselves aboard a ship hell-bent to enjoy the wrath of a hurricane, the first inclination of the wise is to jump! But in the scheme of life, the wise and the foolish somehow find themselves doing the storms of life together. And sometimes the discerning get greasy, get hurt or held hostage by the decisions and directions of the unspiritual. And if they could leave the aftermath of those rejecting wisdom, then the astute could wag the finger and walk away…

But the wise live together with the unwise on the same planet, same nation, community, church, business, family, or in Paul’s case, same boat. So as inequitable it may be that life is done with those who leap from tall buildings and sleep on train tracks, God has chosen such interactions as introductions of grace to those distant from it.

A husband unchecked by the peril of credit card abuse, may bring his family under oppressive clouds of debt or bankruptcy. A promising young man may trivialize his education, trashing his scholarship and academic future with a concupiscent college lifestyle. And an intelligent young lady may forfeit her career plans with an unplanned pregnancy, impeding the dreams she and others possessed. And a business-minded mom may bring untold pain thru ill-advised substance abuse, losing interest in her family and enterprise while dealing with diminishing health.

But in any of these cases, do families forthrightly dissolve the connectivity and commitments due to foolish errors in judgment of those they love? Read the rest of this entry »

This Changes Everything

“…Ye must be born again.” John 3:7 

If ever there were someone who could earn his way into heaven, Nicodemus was the one.

Here was a man who undoubtedly studied the Scriptures, attended every church service and walked the line of personal morality and integrity as much as humanly possible. As a rule, Pharisees get a bad rep with our 20/20 hindsight on this side of Calvary, but make no mistake: they were the bona fide religious leaders of their day who devoted their lives to memorizing, keeping and teaching the most minute detail of the Law of Moses.

This Nicodemus was apparently a leader of the Pharisees, a ruler or teacher of the Jews. His story of a nighttime visit to Jesus – recorded only by the Apostle John two or three decades after not even a mention in the Synoptic Gospels – is reminiscent of another “ruler” who will forever be known for his youth and riches (Luke 18). Both men seem genuinely earnest in their desire to please God and had indeed kept the Law to the best of their ability. What more could a just God require, right?

Being a top-of-the-line Pharisee, Nicodemus would have scoffed at honoring only the “Big Ten” commandments, taking pride in obeying all 613 mostly ceremonial regulations of the Torah and knowing every jot and tittle of the written Law and oral tradition. If you had debated him on the Old Testament, you would have been embarrassed.

Even Nicodemus’ name bears witness that he was “the people’s champion,” deriving from the Greek words “nikos” or “nike” (victory) and “demos” (people). If a famous shoe company had a marketing campaign dating back to the first century, ol’ Nic would have been the “Just do it!” poster boy! When it came to good works, they didn’t come any better.

And yet this overtly devout man came to the upstart Rabbi, Jesus, apparently aware there must be something he was missing. Recognizing that the same God he had tried to appease all his life was the One who sent the Galilean, Nicodemus never even got to the same “What else can I do?” question that the rich, young ruler asked.

“Except a man be born again (or, from above), he cannot see the kingdom of God…. Marvel not that I said unto thee, ‘Ye must be born again.’” Jesus’ simple, profound words – the only time in the King James Version that the Master uttered “Ye must…”Read the rest of this entry »

A Spring Storm and the LORD’s Peace

Psalm 29

1 A Psalm of David.

Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in holy array.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The LORD is over many waters.
4 The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everything says, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
11 The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace

This Psalm of David is divided in to three scenes, the first one is in the heavens. The translation, “O sons of the mighty” refers to angelic beings in the original language. David calls for the angels to worship the LORD in His heavenly splendor.

The second scene is a panoramic scene of the geography of David’s life. He lists the “voice of the LORD” seven times, representing the Divine and challenging the pagan cultic worship of nature, and that voice is moving across the terrain with a powerful sound. In verse 3, pictured as a thunder storm, “the voice of the LORD” begins over the Mediterranean Sea and then moves inland by verse 5. Once over the land, the trees and lands are affected by the power of the LORD’s storm. By verse 7, the lightning has struck and the resultant thunder (8) rattles through the open country areas. Lastly, Read the rest of this entry »

A Note of Gratitude

Just a brief note of gratitude to all the planned festivities of Impact Church this weekend. Beyond the realm of common effort, the honor bestowed on our Impact men was NT authentic and heartfelt; and more importantly, reflective of its deep desire to exalt Christ in every featured event. No greater thing could be said of service than that it was spiritual- faithfully prepared and flawlessly executed!

The plenary meals, special gifts, physical activities, profound words of honor, tears of gratitude and truckloads of affection took center stage in all three services of our two campus church. Of course, the air was festive at times and sober at others, and that was intentional; but the blending of humor and honor brought an incredible tenor to the well-attended and prayerful occasion. Without question, a weekend of such genuine appreciation and awareness of our church fathers elevates this Father’s Day weekend to a new high water mark!

So from Impact Church leadership, we simply wanted to recognize the continued Christ-like effort of so many in making our churches a beacon of diversity, unity, humility and fervent love. The prayer as our men gathered on Saturday morning was that we be godly influencers in home, church, community and the world. Join with us in this endeavor! Somehow, somewhere and someone will carry His life, His love, His words and His power! And we’ve now consented and concluded that that assignment is given to us! It is with joy then that we enter these summer months with a renewed Holy Spirit gusto! Filled with love, filled with grace and filled with faith, we anticipate the gospel being preached and lives changed in this beautiful season of the tangible presence of our God! Blessings to all of Impact Church!

A Summer of Restoration Lies Ahead

“Come aside into a desert place, and rest a while…” Mark 6:31

Memorial Day and the first week of June are in the rear-view mirror,… Father’s Day is less than two weeks away,…and some folks have already lit a long mental fuse on Fourth of July fireworks. Whether the Gregorian calendar agrees or not, summertime has arrived!

We at Impact Church have promoted a “summer of service” theme in the past, and we will certainly continue to serve God’s people and our community during the hot days ahead. But, perhaps more than ever before, we are feeling the need to refresh our spirits and recharge our batteries for the Kingdom work to which our great King has called us.

Summer slump? No way! Summer of restoration? Sign us up! 

The theme of resting and replenishing ourselves for the journey that awaits us is deeply rooted in Scripture. The Creator God modeled it when He observed a day of rest after six days of work. Ever thought about the fact that the limitless Lord God – infinite in power and glory – does not get tired? The day of rest was definitely more for our benefit than His.

In His earthly ministry, the Son of God often called the Twelve off the weary path of their village-to-village ministry circuits to restore them physically and refill them spiritually. The words printed above from Mark 6:31 are written in red in most Bibles, meaning they were spoken by Jesus, the God-Man Himself. The disciples had just returned to the Master after finishing their first preaching tour. In other words, they had been constantly giving themselves to the ministry, pouring out their gifts in spreading the Gospel.

Anyone who hasn’t experienced the weight of ministry will not understand. Kingdom work is often tiring, thankless and taxing to the mind, body and soul. Jesus knew that the unrivaled privilege and joy of bringing folks to Him and discipling them in the Christian walk also carries the burden of caring for the souls of men, women and children.

When the Savior calls His followers aside to rest, isn’t it interesting that He leads them to “a desert place”? Now some of you might think of a sandy beach (the Grand Strand or White Lake, anyone?),… and Scripture tells us that the apostles’ getaway was along the shore of the Sea of Galilee near the town of Bethsaida. (The name literally means “the house of fishing or hunting.”) Some of us might prefer the rejuvenation of an active sporting life – fishing, hunting, softball, cycling, volleyball, golf, etc. – to the lolling and floating life of a beach or lazy river. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of Encouragement

2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2:2  that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 2:3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 2:4  I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 2:5  For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Colossians 2:1-5

There may be no more under-rated and difficult experience in life than being discouraged. It is one of the most perplexing feelings because it appears to be in direct opposition to the life a Christian would experience in this world. There might be several causes for that experience including having great expectations that go unmet, or trusting in someone who doesn’t do what you believed they would, failing to do what you should or doing what you shouldn’t, or simply being unhappy with your life circumstance. The source of our discouragement is most often rooted in our selfishness, when we don’t get what we believe we should. Or, it might be caused by our general assessment that we do not trust or accept what God has prepared for us. Essentially, when we are ungrateful we will struggle with discouragement. However, please consider this the counsel this passage offers in light of our difficult moments.

Difficult times are part of the Christian life. Paul wrote to the Colossian church that he wanted them to know that he had a great struggle on their behalf and for those Christians in Laodicea and others “who have not seen me face to face”. It is important to realize that being a Christian does not mean that we are exempt from difficult moments. Paul also said, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). We will have troubles in this world but they are temporal and serve a greater purpose. Paul wanted them to know that he also had hard times. One of the leading causes of discouragement is a false belief that you are the only one struggling. You are not alone.

Being with other believers is critical for your life. Long before telegraph, telephone, television, emailing, and texting, the world wrote letters to each other. Ironically, this passage shows the same thing that is missing from our experience, and no level of digital communication will make it better: we need to physically see each other to feel the full assurance of the people who love us and who we love. Paul had written letters to churches and they were inspired by the Living God, but his physical presence remained the most dominant assurance of his love for them. For us to avoid the painful experience of discouragement, it is important for us to be physically present with other believers.

Encouragement is similar to the presence of God. The word for “encouragement” here is the same word and idea of having someone who is called alongside of you in the court to represent and support you. Read the rest of this entry »