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Monday, August 7, 2017

Fixing the gaps in our faith (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”-Mark 9:21-24

We all have gaps! How many of you, if we are honest, believe God can heal, but struggle with His willingness or ability to heal you? How many of you believer God can restore broken relationships, but struggle with His willingness or ability to restore yours? How many believe God can save, but struggle with His willingness or ability to reach your loved one? How many of you believe God can provide, but struggle at times with His willingness or ability to show up in your situation?

Isn’t that what was basically happening in this man’s life. He believed that Jesus could heal, save and deliver; that’s why he came looking for Him. However, he still had some doubts about whether Jesus, could help him with his particular set of circumstances. “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can?”

Jesus jumped on that! “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?”

Jesus recognized a gap in this man’s faith. Although he believed enough to bring his son to Jesus’ disciples to be healed, he still struggled with Jesus’ willingness and ability to help in his situation. Jesus declared to him, “Anything is possible if a person believes!”

The man’s response to Jesus captures the very essence of many of our struggles: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

How do you fix these faith gaps? The concept implies precisely what is written. There is a gap in our faith that needs filled. We fix the issue by first acknowledging the problem and then employing a plan that fixes the issue. If you struggle with healing, studying about tithing doesn’t address the issue. If you struggle with insecurity, focusing on other people’s gaps doesn't fix your problem. The Bible says in Romans 10:17:

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

If we are struggling in the area of healing then we must strengthen ourselves from God’s word in the area of healing. We must study God’s word and rightly divide God’s truth becoming an expert in the area of our weakness:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”-2 Timothy 2:15

Some people think that they can overcome their problems, by simply believing more. However, belief doesn’t fill gaps; faith fills gaps. The man who brought his son to Jesus believed, but there was still a gaping hole in his faith that needed addressed. To fill the gaps in our faith we must “hear the word of God.” The Word of God produces faith!

Just as Nehemiah surveyed the walls of Jerusalem looking for the breaches, we too, need to survey our lives and identify the gaps in our faith. Then we must look to God’s Word to give us faith in the areas we are most vulnerable.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Fixing the gaps in our faith (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“Night and day we pray earnestly for you, asking God to let us see you again to fill the gaps in your faith.”-1 Thessalonians 3:10

We don’t typically think about gaps, when we are referring to something like our faith! However, we all have them. A gap is an unfilled space or break in continuity.  Gaps are not typically seen as signs of strength; rather they are consider signs of weakness, vulnerability, or something being incomplete.

The Apostle Paul had a dream in which a man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing and pleading with him to come and help them. Paul believing this was a directive from the Lord decided to leave at once for Macedonia to preach the Good News there. Virtually immediately Paul met opposition in Philippi where he was imprisoned for a short time. After being released he traveled to Thessalonica where he went to the synagogue to share the gospel. He won several to Christ before some of the jealous religious Jews gathered the people to make trouble for Paul. After three weeks Paul was forced out of town.

However, in that three week span of time, Paul managed to establish a fledgling church. Paul was burdened for this little church and in 1 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 wrote:

“Finally, when we could stand it no longer, we decided to stay alone in Athens, and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker[a] in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. That is why, when I could bear it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out whether your faith was still strong. I was afraid that the tempter had gotten the best of you and that our work had been useless.”

Timothy returned with good news that their faith remained strong and it is here that Paul expresses his desire to return and “fill the gaps in their faith.” How many know that a church established on three weeks of teaching is probably going to have some “gaps in their faith”? There are some things that they have yet to be taught and  some things they have yet to experience. It doesn’t mean that we were not fully saved, or that they were not able to be effective witnesses for Christ, or that they were floundering spiritually. It simply means that there were some areas of weakness, vulnerability, and incompleteness that needed to be filled.

 Every one of us has gaps! Gaps in our faith that we shouldn’t overlook or ignore. Gaps are access points for the enemy to manipulate. In Nehemiah 2, Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem and finds the city in ruins, but rather than working to rebuild the city he turns his attention to the wall surrounding the city:

“So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.”-Nehemiah 2:15

After evaluating the situation, Nehemiah had families positioned along the wall wherever there were gaps and they began to rebuild. Immediately, the enemy began to oppose their work:

“Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices?Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”-Nehemiah 4:1-3

From this story we learn a valuable truth; you cannot rebuild your life until you deal with the gaps in your faith. Those gaps, those areas of unbelief or doubt, are the enemies access points. So overcoming the enemy means filling the gaps!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Hypocrites, critics, and other odd religious folks

(Part 3)

“Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud.-Colossians 2:18

The final category of people that those who visit our churches don’t want to encounter are those who are super or hyper-spiritual. These are the people who believe (or at least give off the impression) that they are spiritually superior to others.

They know the Word and know how to manipulate it and bend it to meet their own needs while making others feel spiritually insignificant. They focus heavily, if not exclusively, on the message of grace. They rarely mention sin, repentance or holiness all while claiming to have a deeper connection to God than most.

Charisma magazine in July 2014 did an article describing the indicators of a hyper-spiritual person. Here a just a few:

1. They elevate dreams and visions to the same level and authority as the Word of God.
2. They have no real spiritual authority in their life.
3. The consistently seek recognition and the spotlight.
4. They often claim to be victims (Seeing everything as a  spiritual attack and claiming to     be misunderstood by others.)
5. Demonstrate a tendency to become harsh or judgmental.

The Apostle Paul recognized many of these same issues emerging in the church in Corinth. The church was being influenced by some of these super-spiritual leaders in 2 Corinthians 11:4-6:

“You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed. But I don’t consider myself inferior in any way to these “super apostles” who teach such things. I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.”-2 Corinthians 11:4-6. 

However, the super-spiritual are not the only ones creating havoc in many churches. We also have those that I refer to as Zany Christians.

1. These are individuals that constantly use Christian-ese that unbelievers don’t    understand.
2.  They see a demon in everything (except themselves)!
3. They think saying the sinners prayer with everyone saves the world (but offer no    follow up or discipleship).
4. They think that wearing Christian t-shirts and putting bumper stickers on their cars is        witnessing.

Every church is going to have a few peculiar people, but at the end of the day, people are just looking for authenticity and consistency. Live what you say!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hypocrites, critics, and other odd religious folks (Pt.2)

 (Part 2)

“People without good sense find fault with their neighbors, but those with understanding keep quiet. Gossips can’t keep secrets,but a trustworthy person can.-Proverbs 11:12-13

Another group of individuals that we do not like to encounter, especially at church, are critics. A person with a critical spirit is one with an obsessive attitude towards faultfinding. Critics desire to pick apart things in an effort to discover the wrong in something or someone.

These critical spirits take on many forms:

   There is the gossip. A gossip is a person who reveals secrets. Proverbs 20:19 declares that:
“ A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.”

Gossip is the betrayal of a person’s confidence (Proverbs 11:13) and the reason why it is so heavily discouraged throughout the Scripture.

   There are the slanderers. These individuals make false statements to damage a person’s reputation. This is a deliberate act of malice towards another individual with the intention of causing harm. The Bible has strong words for those who participate in this:

“Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool.”-Proverbs 10:18

   Then we have the judgmental people. These individuals are excessively critical of other people’s motives. They like to point out mistakes while ignoring their own:

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”-Matthew 7:3-5

   We also have the grumblers and complainers! These are people who are characterized by habitual negativity, discontent and ingratitude. James 5:9 tells us:

Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!” and we are instructed in Philippians 2:14: “Do everything without complaining and arguing.”

Whether it be fault-finding, gossip, slander, passing judgment or grumbling and complaining about others; the ultimate objective is to tear down and destroy. When we allow these attitudes prevail in our churches, we can be certain that those who attend will lose interest in the God we serve. That is why Paul penned these words in Ephesians 4: 29:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The church needs be be in the business of building up, not tearing down!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hypocrites, critics, and other odd religious folks (Pt. 1)

(Part 1)

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.”-Matthew 23:1-3

Talk to many people who do not attend church and you will hear them tell you that this is precise why they don’t like coming to church. They claim the church is full of hypocrites. Now, I understand that form many this is simply an excuse not to come to church; but for others there was a real hurt that caused them to have such negative feelings. Do we ignore the problem of hypocrisy in the church because some are hiding behind it to mask their desire to live sinful lives? Of course not! Should follower of Christ be offended by such a statement? No! In fact, it should challenge us to examine our own lives to determine if our words and our lives agree.

I did an informal poll on Facebook asking people to describe for me what it means to be a hypocrite. The answers were eye-opening. The first thing that caught my attention was that the only place associated with having hypocrites, from those who responded, was church. The second thing that caught my attention was the shear number of opinions given to define what it means to be a hypocrite. They were all similar in understanding but with just enough differences to basically encompass everyone who ever set foot in a church.

 A hypocrite by definition is: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion. The word has its origin in the Greek language referring to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. It was adopted into religious texts in the 13th century to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others. Did you catch that? The intention of the masquerade is to deceive others. Lots of people who attend church make mistakes and bad choices, however that doesn’t make them a hypocrite. This begs the question: What is a hypocrite? One response I received on my Facebook post, I found to be very concise: “Someone who expects a high standard for others, but never lives up to it themselves; while acting like they do.”

Jesus spent ample time addressing this very problem with the religious leaders of His day. He recognized the distinct separation from what they taught and how they lived. In Matthew 23, Jesus calls them out multiple times for their hypocritical lifestyles:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.-Matthew 23:13-15

Jesus was calling them out, not because they claimed to be perfect but because they were pretending to be something they were not. People can handle imperfection, they just don’t have a stomach for people being fake. People don’t want to go to church with folks who are telling them how to live like Jesus, but aren’t trying living like Jesus themselves!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Devil is defeated! (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”-Genesis 3:15

From the moment that God made this declaration in the Garden of Eden, Satan’s only strategy has been to disrupt, distract, and divert people away from God. Knowing that Jesus was coming he worked overtime to thwart the plans of God all because he knew what John would later pen to be true:

For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”-1 John 3:8

Jesus accomplished this by disarming Satan at the cross!

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”-Colossians 2:13-15

The only real weapons Satan had to use against us were accusations and the fear of death, but Jesus silenced the accuser (as he rehearsed our sins before God) when he took the penalty for our sins upon Himself on the cross.

Then Jesus completely disarmed him when three days later He came out of the tomb:

“Because God’s children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.”-Hebrews 2:14-15(NLT)

Satan tormented mankind with the fear of death. Fear was the key to Satan’s power and Jesus stripped him of it. We know this because Jesus said in Revelation 1:18:

“I am the living one, I died, but look-I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and the grave.”-

Some of you reading this have been living under the condemnation and accusation of the devil for years. He keeps whispering in your ear things like: “God doesn’t love you.”, “You will never be good enough.”, “Your sins are too many.” Can I tell you that Jesus silenced the accuser at the cross for you.

Some of you are crippled by fear! Fear of the known and the unknown. You feel distant and separated from God and see know hope for your future. Can I tell you that Jesus rose from the grave to give us hope.

Let me encourage you and tell you with confidence what I know to be true:

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Romans 8:37-39

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church