Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Category: March Devotion 2015

Who Can Stand Against Us

Thessalonians 1:18 “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.”

Outside of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, no verse provokes conjecture as quickly as this one. The possibilities here are too varied, the context too vague, and the purposes for leaving out such detail too divine to make what’s not scripted the focus.

What’s critical is that Satan is positively identified as the hinderer. And for a believer to tag Satan as the opposer to good deeds is perfectly comforting. For had it been negligence or lack of desire for visiting the Thessalonians, then apathy, not faith would have reigned. But the Chosen know their Foe well, and they take consolation that their ministry work merits Satan’s attention. And it’s an honor to have the Accuser of the brethren seek to stymie their great work of love!

For the Elect know the limitations and allowances of demons; and are certain that though Satan often opposes our efforts in the short term, the long term purposes of God will prevail! The window and tenure of demon opposition is small and short; a truth believers revel in, even in temporal setbacks and unanticipated tribulations!

So think it not strange, as Peter exhorts the believing Church, that we experience fiery trials, myriad delays and multiple attacks. Rejoice exceedingly when things are topsy-turvy and “out of the blue” roadblocks pop up! Faith is tried greatest when the furnace is hottest… but so is the resultant glory!

God never promised us a trouble free journey; neither does faith carry “exemption from suffering” privileges, or “get out of jail” coupons. But we are promised that wherever we go, we’ll not go alone! And we’re confident that if God goes with us, He’s for us! And if God is for us, who can stand against us!

We always triumph with Christ at the helm!

Let’s get this week started with unshakable faith, and get our God some well-deserved glory!

1 Corinthians 13

Excerpt from a wedding sermon this weekend at Impact Church:

“Cause “I love you” really begins with faith. And Faith isn’t some complex theological concept. It’s simply the dream of desire, the vision of possibility, the hunger for experience, the thirst for connection, the emotion of being obsessed with opportunity and chance, the inner courage of trusting, sometimes trusting again your intuition.

You see, Faith works best when love is the driver. Because it projects you beyond where things are to where you’d like things to be.

It’s love at work when faith says we can do this! Faith says we’re better together than we’d ever be alone! I believe in you and I believe in us! Faith says crazy things when love is at work! Love will make a man reach down deep and though he has a few butterflies, he’ll say “I’m ready for the plunge”!

And if you thought love was all about dreaming and wanting, desiring and holding and planning and looking forward to great things, think again. Think ahead. And think about patience and perseverance. ‘Cause love will work through some delays and difficulties, through some downturns and down times! Love will hold on to faith’s vision and fight through misunderstandings and stressful days. Love will put hope on the payroll and tell hope to push forward and put a little endurance in this relationship! Love won’t let disturbances and disappointments captain the ship. Love tells hope to stay the course. This ain’t nothing but a distraction! Full speed ahead. What’s a little delay or rainstorm to what faith has already envisioned!

The beauty of our love is worthy of being patient and persevering. Hope and patience won’t disappoint us. In fact,  Patience will uncover all the weaknesses in our relationship so we can work them out and remove them as possible hindrances in our future. Our love is greater than a bad day or tough set of circumstances ‘cause love is patient and kind and thoughtful. Love remains resolute in the face of rugged times and we don’t mind taking a little time off the clock to ensure a brighter tomorrow. That’s what love will do with hope. ‘Cause Love sees the big picture!

And here’s something else love will do: Love will defend its object of affection from every and all enemies. No power, foreign or domestic, defeats a relationship that love determines to be. Love is an overcomer– not so much in swords and violence but in laying one’s life down for the well-being and growth of another. Love will sacrifice its own preferences and privileges for the peace of another.

Love is a paradox beyond any calculated comprehension.  Love knows my wife is in fact a part of me! How could I dismiss, denounce or dishonor my own bodily existence, my own pleasure and significance? Love reaches for the highest virtues of relationship, forgetting the proud individualism of singleness and embraces the harmony of two is better than one. And if two become one, how powerful is that?

Love will be quick to forgive. And forget! For who wants to torment one’s own mind when it’s in his own power to remove it? Love basks in the beauty of unity, the togetherness of thought, the motion of synchronization, the compatibility of differing views worked out in Grace, kindness and appreciation! And what person would not nourish and coddle and pamper and forgive and reconcile and move on from anything or anyone who dared to interfere with his love!

Love is a fighter, a dreamer, a defender, a gardener, an advocate, a doctor, a lawyer, a servant, a soldier and a friend! Love looks ahead to what can be and hurdles every pothole with gusto! We’ve chosen to love, thus every other force is now subject to our every whim!  We choose to love! And love we will be! And love we are today! And God is love! And if God be for us…who can be against us!”

The Cross

In the first century, crucifixion was an ordinary means that the Romans used to execute offenders.  However, there is one crucifixion that stands alone in significance and eternal ramifications. The cross of Christ, although considered foolish and unnecessary, takes its place as the most important event in the history of the world.  The cross was the culmination of heaven’s plan, Christ’s assignment, and the desire of all mankind. May the cross be at the center of our focus and attention as we enter into this Easter season.  Even as Paul said he, “Passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 emphasis added)

All four gospel accounts provide record of the events that led up to and the actual occasion of the crucifixion of Christ. Treated and tried as a criminal, Jesus was innocent of the charges levied against Him.  However, it was necessary that He be crucified.  We believe that it was at the cross where Jesus Christ made the atonement for sin. It is because of this that the work of the cross, for us who believe, is not foolish or absurd but it “is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18)! The cross of Christ provides every believer with a powerful testimony and message. In fact, it is the platform and medium where God spoke the loudest and clearest.  It was Augustine who said, “The cross was a pulpit in which Christ preached His love to the world”.

What occurred at the cross is at the center of our beliefs as Christians. Read the rest of this entry »

In Praise of God’s Word

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalms 119:105

In the very heart of your Bible stands one of the most enduring and passionate tributes on any subject in all of literature. The longest chapter of the longest book in the sacred canon – Psalm 119 – towers like a mighty redwood extolling the glorious beauty of the written Word of God in language found nowhere else.

The Psalmist easily drains his inkwell for 176 verses (double the length of the next longest Bible chapter, Numbers 7),…and his subject is hardly exhausted. In fact, if you are a student of God’s Word you will know that perhaps the only reason the writer brought the ode to an end was because there were no more letters left in the alphabet!

The 119th Psalm is an abecedarian, or alphabetical, acrostic based on the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Many Bibles will have the first letter “ALEPH” as a heading over the first eight verses, “BETH” over the second set and so on. Each of the eight verses in the respective sections begins with that Hebrew letter; and many Jewish families used the beloved psalm to teach children their “ABCs.”

God’s Word is represented by a host of designations: law, ordinances, commandments, precepts, testimonies, statutes, way, etc. Only four of the 176 verses do not contain such a synonym.

Of course, with a psalm of this length and the gravity and radiance of its content, there are many ways one can mine it for the depth of its treasures. One of our favorite ways is to examine the verbs used in relation to the Truth. We are told to walk in it,…keep it,…respect it,…learn it,…take heed to it,…not wander from it,…hide it in our hearts,…declare it,…delight in it,…behold wondrous things in it,…understand it,…choose it,…cling to it,…long after it,…trust in it,…and hope in it,…just to name a few.

We can do no justice here to the eloquence of the Psalmist or the majestic grandeur of the Word. Our only intent is to whet your appetite, dear saint, Read the rest of this entry »

GOD’S WORD: Reason over Recall

Mark 12: 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

35 And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself said in the Holy Spirit,
‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”‘ 37 David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

“The scribe said to Him, ‘Right, Teacher; You have truly stated…’” Wow. That’s pretty bold for that scribe to affirm that Jesus was right as a teacher in stating the greatest commandant. Jesus had answered the scribe’s question about the Greatest Commandment and he was clearly pleased that Jesus answered him as he felt He should. As Mark records Jesus’ assessment, the scribe had indeed answered intelligently, there is a somber response on Jesus’ part: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” There was something in the man’s answer that wasn’t enough to demonstrate that he was IN the kingdom of God. Close and yet so far.

What the man knew was right. His study of the Word of God had properly prepared him to know the value and the rank of what mattered the most in terms of the Commandments. A reading from Deuteronomy 6 reveals what matters the most to God by way of the Law: there is One God, YAHWEH, and He is to be loved with your entire life. But something was missing. He wasn’t in the kingdom. Knowledge of the Law and the most important commandment will get you to the doorstep but not into the kingdom. With Jesus’ pronouncement of the scribes’ shortcomings, the large crowd didn’t ask any more questions.

Still in the Temple, Jesus turns the conversation to the great crowd and asked them all a question that challenged what the scribes taught: “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?” Had the audience considered the implication of what the scribes were teaching? Did the scribes understand its meaning? Read the rest of this entry »

Despise Not the Day of Small Things

In an age where super-size is the only size- from sodas to sofas, rims to airplanes or churches to CEO salaries- seems we’ve bought into a material concept that size means everything. And apparently this spirit of competitive consumerism has caught the eye of the manufacturing and marketing elite as well. For not only are we now conscious of good bargains, we’re susceptible to purchases far beyond our need for the sake of that supposed, “great deal!” (It’s a far better deal to buy 3 for $5 than 1 for $3, you know how we justify our behaviors!) We then have to purchase a gym and fitness plan to combat our inability to be frugal or at least be self controlled.

Not only are we big on big stuff, we’re big on big names and big titles and big personas. Our ability to drop names in common conversation speaks garishly of our insecurities and ambitious strivings for place and esteem. The automatic credibility we give to those with letters or titles, either before or behind their names, declares our predetermined sense of what’s lofty and worthy of pursuit. Yet seldom are we aware of the blindness that blind attraction to personalities brings in exposing one’s own vanity and shallowness.

Seems the greater an image is portrayed by means of media and marketing, the more readily we are to accept the personality or product with little scrutiny. A big time athlete places his name on most any product, and it’s an instantly hot item. If the mass culture sanctions a personality, Read the rest of this entry »