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Monday, June 18, 2018

Putting feet to our faith-Listen & Do (Pt.2)

(Part 2)

 “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”-James 1:21-22

There is another danger in our walk of faith that is equally as devastating as over-reacting and that is under performing. In this passage, James is addressing another problem he has observed among believers. Many were knowledgeable about scripture, knowledgable about church, knew the right things to say; but were not executing the truth of God’s word in their daily life. Being a non-response believer is just as crippling as being a reactionary believer. They are what I like to call idealistic Christians. They like the idea of Christianity, but are not interested in the application or sacrifice expected of those who received truth. 

Right from the beginning of the passage, James calls for Christians to lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and to receive with meekness the implanted word. He called for them to be doers of the word and not hearers only. When we are hearers and not doers, we deceive ourselves into believing that we are in right standing with God. True salvation, however, will always lead to serving. Unfortunately, there are those who are more interested in their image than they are accomplishing the will of God in the earth. 

“For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”-James 1:23-25

You can construe a lot of different things from this passage, but for me it boils down to this: You can spend you time looking in the mirror, preparing to do something, or you can get out there and do it. You can spend your time appearing to be a servant, or you can roll up your sleeves and serve. We have way too many believers who are more concerned about their image than they are accomplishing God’s will. It soon becomes all about maintaining the image they have created, of themselves, in their own minds. Nevertheless, when you peer into God’s Word to see what needs accomplished, how you appear quickly loses it’s appeal. You discover who you are in Christ and can focus on what needs accomplished. I no longer have to see me, I just need to see Him! 

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”-James 1:26-27
A lot of people think they are religious (spiritual), but their actions and words communicate a different story. Worthless religion is a religion that makes you feel better about yourself, but doesn’t really transform your life. Genuine religion leads us to express our faith in very practical ways like taking care of those in need but it also leads us to develop an inner devotion to God’s holiness. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, June 11, 2018

Putting feet to our faith-Listen & Do (Pt.1)

(Part 1)

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”-James 1:19-20

When it comes to living a life of faith, it is important to remember that the Christian faith is not built on reactions but on responses. The meanings of these two words may seem synonymous, however we must be mindful of the subtleties between the two words. 

A reaction is impulsive, tense, short-sighted; whereas a response is thought out, calm, and has the big picture in mind. Considering those definitions, how do you live your life? In times of trial and temptation do you react or respond? Life is going to throw a million things at us and we have a choice regarding how we will approach those moments. With that said, there are going to be moments where we must react to a situation for our own preservation or for the protection of others. However, we cannot live a sustained life of faith with that as our base.

Listen to James words on how we should respond to the trials and temptations that we face. He said we should be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 

Proverbs 1:5 tells us: 

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.”

The key to responding correctly to most situations we face is to listen first. Too often, we want to express ourselves verbally before we have taken time to listen. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:1:

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

Solomon teaches that even when we are approaching God, we should first go near to listen. How often do we blaze into our personal prayer times and exhaust God with our laundry list of needs and then just as swiftly exit without ever hearing from Him? It stands to reason, that when facing a trial, we should spend time listening. We should add to our learning and seek discernment before we begin to try and address the problem. This will help to keep us from sounding foolish and from appearing naive about the situations we are facing. 

In addition, we should be slow to speak. Ecclesiastes 5:2 states: 

“Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.”

Solomon points out that a proper response requires us to discipline our mouths. The key to responding and not reacting is to weigh our words before we speak them. Consider their impact and necessity in addressing our problems. Too often we are rash with our mouth often speaking without thinking, verbalizing our thoughts without weighing all the facts, forgetting that according to Proverbs 18:21 that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Our words have the power to build up or tear down. Solomon admonishes us to be careful with what we say, especially before God. We should be quick to listen, but let our words be few. 

Finally, James challenges us to be slow to anger. He states that the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. There is a righteous anger that we can carry towards that which is sinful, however the anger we carry towards others will never produce God’s righteousness in us. Man’s anger is reactionary; intended to punish and exact justice on our behalf. God’s wrath is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. It seems that we are quick to forget the we have been forgiven by God and commissioned to forgive others just as God has forgiven us. 

How different would your work place, home life, and daily interactions with others look if you simply employed those three simple rules: be swift to hear, be slow to speak, and be slow to anger? 

Pastor Scott Burr

Dayspring Community Church

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Putting feet to our faith-Endurance (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”-James 1:13-18

Spiritual endurance is not built on testing alone, but it is built each time we withstand temptation. Temptation is a strong urge or desire to have or do something, especially something wrong or unwise. Listen to how James describes temptation: 

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”-James 1:14-15

Where testing is something we contend with outwardly, temptation is an inward battle and although the tests we face may come from the Lord, temptation never does. God is holy, and therefore will not solicit us to sin when it comes to temptation.

If we sin, it is because we choose it. James declares that we are drawn away by our own desires. Satan and this world may provide the outward enticement, however we choose whether or not we will pursue it. Satan doesn’t plant or create desire in us for that which is sinful, he simply entices what is already there. That means we alone have the power to choose to do what is right. 

Endurance, however, is not simply about doing the right things, but it is also important not to do the wrong things. You can choose to exercise your body to stay healthy, but if you don’t eat right too, then you will never achieve the ultimate goal. We must choose do the right, while resisting doing wrong. It’s spiritual resistance training. Resisting temptation builds endurance. Each time we resist the desire to pursue that which is sinful, we build our spiritual endurance. Each time we suppress our desire, that desire begins to have less and less of a hold on us. However, suppressing desire all at once could prove difficult, so initially we may have to put boundaries in place to avoid sinful actions. 

Ultimately, temptation is another avenue by which to divide our loyalty. We can choose to sin or we can choose God. We can pursue our own desires, or we can pursue righteousness. That is why the passage describes it as being: drawn away. Temptation is designed to misdirect us from God’s path onto another path.

When it comes to building endurance: testings are to be endured and temptations resisted. Together they have the potential to build the kind of spiritual endurance in us that will carry us to the end. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church 

Putting feet to our faith: Endurance (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”-James 1:2-3

Let me start by saying that if the Christian life was easy, there would be no need for endurance. Endurance is the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

Most of the time we think about endurance in the context of athletics, especially those activities that make a prolonged demand on the body; such as a marathon, triathlon, a century bike race or basketball tournament. Endurance is important in those activities where you are pushing yourself physically and mentally to reach a goal that is not easily attained. However, unlike the sporting events I mentioned, the Christian life does not have a predictable ending point.

A marathon ends in 26.2 miles, a century bike ride is 100 miles, a basketball game lasts four quarters; but the Christian life could last 30 minutes or 90 years. So how do you build endurance for something that does not have a predictable ending point? Although inspiration and initiative may help you get off the starting blocks, endurance is what keeps you in the race until the end.

When it comes to building physical endurance you have catalyst that help you build endurance: resistance, intensity, and frequency. The book of James tells us that we have two catalyst that help us build spiritual endurance: testing and temptation.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”-James 1:12

James identifies testing and temptation as having the potential to build the type of spiritual endurance in our lives that will carry us to the end.

According to James 1:2 when our faith is tested our endurance has a chance to grow. How we approach a time of testing in our lives will have a tremendous affect on our ability to endure physically and emotionally to the end. So how does God test us? Some may look at testing as facing an illness, marriage problems, loss of job, or a financial crisis. However, listen to James 1:5-8:

“But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”-James 1:6-8

The things that will test your endurance the most are those that divide your loyalty. You cannot finish a race being drawn in two different directions. It creates instability and inconsistency in a person’s life. What is robbing you of being consistent in your devotions with God, what is robbing you of being consistent in your church attendance, what is robbing you of sharing your faith with others, what are spending your finances on that is robbing God of His tithe? What is dividing your loyalty?

A test is given to evaluate what you have learned. My wife always says that the difficult thing about tests is that God will keep giving them to you until you pass it. That means that each test we face is an opportunity to express our understanding of God’s truth.

Pastor Scott Burr

Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Winning our kids to Christ! (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”-Proverbs 22:6

Modeling faith to our kids is important, however, at some point we must move from “this is how its done” (which is modeling), to “this is how you do it” (which is training). Training is the action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behavior. Once we  have modeled how to live, we must then teach our kids how to do it. That is precisely what God spoke through Moses in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Teach. Talk. Write. All of these represent avenues by which we can train up our kids in the ways of righteousness. Training is designed to be intentional, focused, and goal oriented. It can be structured, however, it can also happen spontaneously; when special moments arise in which we can see the hand of God in action. We must be prepared to proclaim the goodness of God to our kids. Proclaiming the praises of God and declaring His wonderful works is another way we train them:

“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done.”-Psalm 78:4

Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways that we train up a child is through discipline:

“The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Addressing wrong behavior is every bit as important as teaching them what is right. A lack of correction leaves the child to determine what is right or wrong in their own eyes. Left to themselves, their decisions will lead to shame and heartache. We must then lovingly correct poor behavior and redirect them towards making good, godly choices.

The biggest obstacle that many of our kids will face is the obvious inconsistency they see in us as parents. Training can be hindered by our lack of integrity in modeling what we teach or by our inability to show grace in the growth process:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.”-Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”-Colossians 3:21

If you want to discourage your child from pursuing Jesus, nothing does it faster than telling them how to live, yet not living it yourself. I would venture say that even parents who are making the effort to train up their child, focus more heavily on the training than the modeling. Be certain, kids will detect when what you are saying is not lining up with how you are living.

Remember, the goal is to win our kids to Christ, not just bring them to church. Although salvation is a choice that each one of them will have to make on their own, we can certainly position them for a life of faith through good modeling and training.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, May 14, 2018

Winning our kids to Christ! (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”-Proverbs 11:30 (NKJV)

As believers in Jesus Christ, our responsibility is to wins souls for Christ. As a parent, I believe that our minimum responsibility is to make every effort to win our own kids to Christ. Recently we had a missionary at our church that made a statement that really got me thinking. He said, “The reason that many churches are dying is that they are failing to win their kids to Christ.” In other words, one of the greatest ways to perpetuate the church is to simply win our own kids to the Lord.

The church’s mission, like Jesus, is to seek and save the lost. However, in our efforts to reach our communities and build bigger ministries, many of our own kids are slipping through the cracks; pulled away by a variety of other interests, influences, sports and hobbies.

I hear a lot of parents say, “I want to see my kids back in church.” However, is that really the objective? Are you satisfied with your child being or becoming an avid church goer or is your objective to raise up a disciple? Will you be happy if they are faithful to church, but have no real relationship with Jesus?

We’ve been called to make disciples of all nations, not church attendees. The goal is not to lead our kids to church but to lead them to Christ. Someone who is taught simply to attend church will soon lose interest in attending the moment they discover other activities they find more entertaining, pleasurable, or fulfilling, however, a person who is discipled will biblically understand it’s value and make every effort to gather with fellow believers.

So, although attending church is a natural component of our faith, what have we actually won? Proverbs 11:30 says that we are to win souls. What does that mean? What does a soul that’s been won look like? To win a soul means: to successfully lead someone into their own personal relationship with Jesus and then disciple them to maturity. This is best done through modeling and training.

Leading a child to Christ begins with modeling. It has been said that you cannot lead where you have not been. To model means to serve as a standard or example. As parents we are to model faith to our kids. The Apostle Paul, a spiritual father to the church, said in Corinthians 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul’s preaching would have been nullified in the hearts of those who heard it, if they had not first seen it displayed in his life.

Before we can ever lead others we must first take heed ourselves the teachings of Christ and the Word of God:

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all they days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren.”-Deuteronomy 4:9

Modeling always precedes teaching. It is imperative that we make application and live by these principles ourselves. We can’t teach our kids to forgive, if they never see us walk out forgiveness. We can’t teach our kids the importance of giving, if they never see us give. If attending church is optional for you, it will likely become optional for them. If you prioritize things ahead of devotions, worship, and church; so will they.

What areas should you be modeling in?

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.”-1 Timothy 4:12 

You should be leading by example in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity. Are you modeling faithfulness in each of these areas? Or are your modeling compromise? The dangerous tendency is to excuse our compromises. When we do, we lay the groundwork for continued compromise in our kid’s lives; meaning they will further build upon the compromises that we’ve allowed.

It’s hard to correct bad behavior by simply telling someone to stop. Good behavior and Godly practices must be modeled before we can expect others to accept any training in righteousness that we may offer.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Bible tells me so! (Pt. 4)

(Part 4)

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”-Psalm 119:105

This passage of scripture, probably, sums up how most people perceive the Word of God. It is like a flashlight that you can turn off and on when you need it. A resource or a tool that we can pull out if things get dark and we’ve seemed to lose our way. For most, it is an inanimate object; simple words on a page. A book filled with wisdom that can be deployed on a moments notice; having accountability over their lives when they see fit. However, it is hard for something to hold you accountable, when you are still trying to exercise authority over it. 

The Word of God, however, is not confined to serving at our behest”

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.-Hebrews 4:12 

Hebrews declares that the Word of God is a two-edged sword. It is more like an excavator than it is a flashlight. It digs deep into a person’s soul to expose our inner most thoughts and desires. Because it is living and active, we don’t have the power to turn it off when it suits us. It will convince us of much, and convict us of much more. It is precisely that reason that so many opt to silence it in their lives. 

One commentator wrote: “God’s word is living and active. It is not constrained to the pages of a book and is only loosed when you open it. The book is for your benefit. It is a compilation of the power of God for you to engage, but it does you little good until it is lifted from the page and deposited in your heart and mind”

If we will allow God’s Word to do its work in our lives it can shape our hearts and transform our minds:

 It will be our greatest weapon against sin:

“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”-Psalm 119:11 

It is the power of God for our salvation:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”-Romans 1:16 

It will solidify our faith:

 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”-Romans 10:17. 

It will sanctify our lives:  

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”-John 17:17 

It will train us in righteousness: 

 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”-2 Timothy 3:16 

The only way to live a transformed life is to allow God’s word to have absolute authority over your life and allow it to hold you accountable in thought and action.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church