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Friday, February 17, 2017

Risky Faith: You want to play in puddles or walk on water?

“And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.”-Matthew 14:28-29

Many of you are familiar with the story of Jesus walking on the water. Jesus had just finished feeding 5,000 plus people with two fish and five loaves of bread; when he came to the disciples and made them get into a boat and begin to make their way to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus returned to send the crowds home and then found a place to pray.

As the evening progressed, the wind and waves began to beat upon the boat and tossed it about causing it to end up in the middle of the sea far from shore. Sometime between 3-6 a.m., Jesus decided to go to them walking on the water.

Of course, when the disciples saw Him they began to panic thinking they had seen a ghost. Recognizing their fear Jesus declared:

“Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”-Matthew 14:27

It is right then that Peter asked, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter was inspired by what he saw Jesus doing! Have you ever been so inspired by something you read Jesus do that it moved you to crazy faith? Moved by Peter’s faith Jesus said to him, “Come!”

The scriptures tell us that Peter got down out of the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus, however when he heard the wind howling and saw the waves crashing around him; he became afraid and started to sink.

“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”-Matthew 14:31

Peter catches a lot of grief because of that statement, but what about the 11 guys sitting in the boat who never acted remotely interested in walking on water. Out of 12 men in the boat, only one guy was courageous enough to climb out!
The 11 guys in the boat were playing it safe. I equate them with people who like to play in mud puddles.

People play in puddles because they are shallow and safe. You rarely hear stories about people drowning in a puddle or read stories of people who were rescued after spending days stuck in a mud puddle. Seas, however, are deep, vast, and expansive. Remember these guys were not sitting near the shoreline, they were out in the heart of the sea. They certainly were not safe. With puddles you can feel the ground beneath you. In the middle of the sea you cannot. With puddles you can see the safety of the shoreline. In the middle of the see you cannot. You might get a ripple in a puddle, but you have tsunamis in the ocean. In a puddle you can splash around and make a lot of noise; that’s because it’s easy to be courageous when you are only in ankle deep water. The reality is we want to enjoy all the benefits of being in the water, but still be in complete control. However, people who are satisfied to play in puddles will never walk on water.

Eventually, nearly all the disciples, who remained int he boat, would have their own “step out of the boat” moment. They would take the gospel around the world and most of them would go on to be martyred for their faith in Jesus. Nevertheless, doing great things for God doesn’t come from playing it safe. It comes from getting out of the boat!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Risky Faith: When God says go! (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”-Luke 9:59-60 

Whenever we make the bold decision to go after God, we should not be surprised by the spiritual hindrances that begin to surface.  Luke records for us the interaction between Jesus and some of the people He called to follow Him. Their responses sound reasonable, but Jesus seems to have His own perspective on their situations. 

In Luke 9:59-60 we have a man who is asking for time to go and bury his father. Jesus’ response may sound harsh, but the greatest spiritual hindrances we face are the excuses we allow ourselves to make for not going. Excuses cause us to remain stuck in the starting blocks. The death of a loved one seems like a valid reason for delaying our obedience to God’s directives, however many of the valid reasons we give turn out to be nothing more than excuses for our own inaction. 

Another spiritual hindrance to our going is procrastination:

“And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”-Luke 9:61-61

How often do we drag our feet when it comes to obeying God? How often do we prioritize the mundane and never actually get to the pursuit of God’s will? God told this man to follow Him, but his response was “Lord, let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” Saying goodbye to his family became a greater priority than obeying Jesus’ command. To procrastinate means to delay something. In this case, the man was delaying obedience to God’s Word; and delayed obedience is simply disobedience.

For the most part, excuses and procrastination are the greatest hindrances many will face. However, there will be times that the opposition we face is not from within, but from others:

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.-Luke 10:1-3

Jesus sent them out two by two to declare the good news of Jesus Christ, but He cautioned them saying “Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Basically, 
He told them to expect opposition! Not everyone is going to be happy with your decision to go after God and in some cases may even to attempt to discourage or dissuade you from going.  

Risky faith means silencing every excuse, refusing to delay obedience, and overcoming the opposition of others in order to pursue the heart of God. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Risky Faith: When God says go! (Pt. 1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name grate; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”-Genesis 12:1-4 

As I read this passage, I thought to myself; what if Abram had not gone when God told him to go. How different would our Bibles look if those people God called to go simply stayed where they were? What I’ve found from carefully mediating on this passage is that the biggest problem with going is leaving.

The first thing that God told Abram was to get out of his country, away from his family, and away from the comforts of his father’s house. God didn’t begin by showing Abram where he was going or what type of blessings awaited him when he reached his destination. Instead, He began by showing Abram what he must leave behind. It isn’t that God’s blessings don’t appeal to us; it is leaving what we have become so comfortable with that holds us back.

Go is a command to action. You cannot follow God and stay in your comfort zone. Is it risky to follow God? I guess it depends on how much you trust God when He says, “I will.” He told Abram, If you get out of your land, I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. If we believe, without a shadow of a doubt that God will honor His Word, then it isn’t risky at all. However, because He often does not give us all the information at once, we cannot know exactly when or how God will make it happen. This lack of information and control cause many to see the risk of going as too great.

“So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”-Genesis 12:4

Abram made a bold decision to heed the voice of the Lord and to go.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.-Hebrews 11:8-10

Hebrews 11:8-10 teaches us that going after God requires tremendous faith and in addition requires some things from us:

Going always requires obedience to God’s Word.
Going always includes an element of not knowing. That’s faith!
Going always requires us to stay focused on the big picture; especially when we do not see the plan of God unfolding in our immediate future.

Remember, the only thing that Abram would own in Caanan upon his death, was a tomb. Why? He had his eye on a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10).

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, January 23, 2017

Risky Faith: Faith with a cost! (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“So, likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”-Luke 14:33

Jesus does not mince words when it comes to the cost of true discipleship; following Him will cost you everything! Salvation is a gift from God, one that cost Him everything, but costs us nothing. However, following Jesus comes at a premium. This is precisely what Jesus told the disciples in Luke 18:26-30:

“And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Nevertheless, how can we be sure that if we give up so much that we will gain eternal blessings? That’s what makes faith so risky. It forces us to answer the question: Is the benefit going to be greater than the sacrifice? That is the essence of risk.

Risk means to expose (someone or something of value) to danger, harm, or loss in anticipation of a greater return. Serving God is risky because it can cost us relationships, comfort, finances, lifestyle, and even our own lives. It costs more than a couple hours of your time, once a week, to attend church. It is more than sacrificing a couple bucks in the offering plate. Thats’ not risk. 

Risk is believing without seeing. It is stepping out into the unknown. Risk is going without knowing the final destination. It is about sacrificing what I have to pursue what God has ahead for me. Jack Hyles once said:

“Faith is the willingness to risk anything for God.”

Christians around the world are being martyred for their faith in Christ while we get upset when someone is sitting in our seat at church. Compared to Christianity around the world our version is safe and comfortable. In fact, many churches have worked very hard eliminate any mention of risk from the messages that they preach; worried that preaching the cost of following Jesus will ultimately cost them members. 

This is a gross injustice. Someday, when we are no longer protected by our religious freedoms; many will not have the fortitude to stand in the face of persecution because they were not taught that there is a cost to following Christ. 

Following God isn’t safe! It is risky! There is a cost to following Jesus. Have you counted it? The reality is that we would have a lot less backslidden believers today, if more people would have count the cost of following Jesus before they started. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, January 16, 2017

Risky Faith: Faith with a cost! (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”-Luke 14:25-27

Throughout the New Testament there are passages of scripture that I consider to be thinning passages. Bold statements made by Jesus designed to flesh out, uncover, and distinguish those who were serious about following Him. This, to me, is one of those passages. Jesus is being followed by a great multitude of people, when suddenly He stops, turns to them, and declares that if anyone does not hate their father, mother, sisters, brothers, wife and children; even their own lives they could not be His disciple!

A statement like that is designed to make people stop and think. Did Jesus mean what He said? Yes! Does it mean we have to hate all these people? No, but it should challenge you to consider if any of these relationships holds a greater place in your heart and life than He does! Although Jesus will go on to explain this extravagant statement in the passages following; it surely gave people pause to consider their own realistic level of commitment.

Recently I read a report given by The Center for the Study of Global Christianity that stated in 2016 there were 90,000 Christians murdered for their faith around the world. The CSGC additionally reported the number of Christians martyred in the last decade reached 900,000, which amounts to one being killed every six minutes. The CSGC defines a martyr as anyone who lost their life prematurely as a result of human hostility, while they were upholding Christianity. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group in the world.

It is hard for us here in our western culture to fathom such a thing. Because of the religious freedoms we enjoy we have the luxury of gathering for worship each week without fear of being bombed, gunned down, or burned out. We do not live with the daily threat of having our houses and property destroyed because of our faith in Jesus. However, this has caused us to become very lackadaisical in our approach to holiness, witnessing, and disciple-making. Compared to Christianity around the world our version is safe and comfortable, which I fear is producing a church that is void of the power of God.

Part of the problem is that the message we are proclaiming is devoid of any mention of the cost. There is a  cost associated with following Jesus. Jesus spoke a lot about the cost of following Him. In Luke 14: 28-30 Jesus stated:

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?”-Luke 14:28-30

Jesus’ parable describes a man who sets out to build a tower, but does not calculate how much it will cost to build it. He is able to start, but is not able to finish. How many people do we know like that; who start off with every intention of following Jesus, but ultimately do not finish because the price to follow became too great?

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Unfinished Business (Pt. 2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”-John 21:15

After the group finished breakfast, Jesus turned His attention to Peter. It became, painfully obvious, very quickly, that Jesus’ visit to them (this third time) was because Jesus and Peter had some unfinished business.

It had not been that many days ago, that Peter, who once declared his unwavering allegiance to Christ; scurried off into the night heartbroken after denying Jesus three times. Upon finding him back at his old trade, Jesus begins to question Peter’s love for Him.

Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” The first time Jesus poses the question He uses the Greek word agape. This term for love means unconditional devotion. However, when Peter responds he uses the Greek word phileo which is more of a brotherly love. It is interesting that Peter is much more reserved in his proclamation of devotion to Christ.

The second time Jesus asks Peter the question, Jesus again uses the word agape; to which Peter once again responds with the word phileo. Finally, Jesus asks Peter one more time if he loves Him. This time Jesus uses the word phileo, to which Peter responds, “Lord you know all things, you know that I love you.” The scriptures tell us that when Jesus asked the third time that Peter was grieved:

“He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you  love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love me?”-John 21:17

Peter understood the significance of the question being asked three times. It was a plain reminder of the previous three-times he had denied Jesus.

Have you ever mad a mistake you just can’t seem to put behind you? A grand mistake that has caused you so much shame that you believe God cannot bear to love you again. Peter made a lot of mistakes! On more than one occasion he was caught arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom, he was among those who fussed at Mary when she broke the alabaster jar on Jesus’s feet, he even cut off a man’s ear! However, it was when Peter denied Jesus three times; that he began to question his own worth, love, and loyalty to Christ.

I can only imagine how Peter felt after being asked repeatedly by Jesus if he loved Him. He had to remember the immense shame he felt after he had denied Jesus publicly. Because of this, Jesus used this public occasion to restore Peter; to declare to him in front of everyone that God wasn’t done with him yet! Three times He told Peter, if you love me then feed my sheep. Jesus was challenging Peter to focus his eyes on the work ahead an not on his past failures.

Jesus even went as far as to share with Peter the cost of accepting that mission. It would ultimately mean his own crucifixion (John 21:18-19).

In this dramatic moment, Jesus posed these last words to Peter; “Follow Me.” Years before He called Peter to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-19), now Peter knew that continuing to follow Jesus would mean a certain death. Peter was once again challenged to follow his Lord!

Perhaps you have made one of those grand mistakes; a mistake that has caused you so much shame that you believe God cannot bear to love you again. Can I tell you that God can restore you! Perhaps you feel as though God has forgiven you, but He can never use you again because of what you did! Can I tell you that God is calling out to you to feed His sheep! Perhaps He called you once to follow Him and you did, but somewhere along the way you got off track, can I tell you that Jesus is calling out to you today to once again follow Him!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Unfinished Business (Pt. 1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“ After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately[a] got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.’-John 21:1-3

“After these things” is a curious phrase, because it demands that you remember what happened just prior to this in order to appreciate what you are about to read next. Let’s face it, some pretty amazing things had happened prior to this. Jesus was arrested, beaten, crucified, buried, rose again, and then appeared to his disciples on two different occasions. The first time He appeared to them was to confirm His resurrection. The second was specifically for Thomas. Now He is about to show Himself again. The question is why?

We know from Matthew 28:10 that Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples to go to Galilee and there they would see Him. It appears, however, as they waited they grew a little impatient and Peter decides to go fishing. He is accompanied by six other disciples; several of which were fishermen by trade, yet they did not catch a single fish all night. 

When morning came, Jesus stood on the shore and called to them John 21:4-6:

“But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”

The Apostle John recognized that it was the Lord and when Peter heard this, he bailed out of the boat and swam to shore (John 21:7-11). When he arrived on shore, Jesus had a fire going and breakfast ready, but why was He here?

Because this is where it all began:

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”-Matthew 4:18-20

It was here that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him. As they finished eating their breakfast, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and asked him a very deliberate question:

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”-John 21:15

The passage is a little vague about whom or what Jesus is referring. Was He referring to the fish and the fisherman’s lifestyle that Peter once worked. Fishing was his comfort zone. Jesus had called Peter to follow Him and taught him how to be a fisher of men; now, however, Peter found himself once again back in a boat, back to his old trade. 

Or was Jesus speaking about the other disciples? Let’s face it Peter made some pretty bold statements concerning his devotion compared to the others: 

“Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”-Matthew 26:33

Whichever the case may be, it became clear, very quickly, that Jesus’ visit to them (this third time) was because Jesus and Peter had some unfinished business. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church