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Monday, February 19, 2018

Ransomed! (Pt.1)

(Part 1)

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.”-1 Peter 1:18-20

Communion, as we celebrate it today, was established by Jesus at the Passover meal that He partook of just prior to His death. He distributed the fruit of the vine and the bread to His disciples and declared that they were His blood and body and that they should be received in remembrance of Him. It was a monumental moment that Jesus intended to be a perpetual reminder of an amazing reality. Yet, for many of us it is just another Bible story.

All too often, we simply walk through the motions of communion without considering it’s deep implications.  It has become a religious task, a spiritual obligation fulfilled, or another check mark on our Christian to-do list. 

However, the fruit of the vine and the bread were not given out as appetizers intended to tide them over until mealtime. They were emblems of Christ’s suffering. They were intended to remind us of the ransom Christ paid for each of us. 

The word ransom is defined as a payment demanded for the release of a prisoner. According to Romans 3:23 we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We were born imprisoned by sin:

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right.”-Romans 6:20

We were prisoners! Held in the destructive grasp of sin and destined for death-eternal separation from God. In Isaiah 59:2 the prophet declared: 

“It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.”

There was a price to paid for our sin. Romans 6:23 reminds us that the wages of sin is death. Each one of us has racked up a sin debt. A debt that we have a tendency to forget about.

I’m fairly certain that a majority of people in our country frown upon desecrating our devaluing emblems of our freedom-burning the flag, mocking the national anthem, or desecrating a war memorial. Why? Because they represent not simply our freedom but they are a reminder of a price that was paid for our freedom, by brave men and women that laid down their lives so that we could continue to enjoy being free. 
We are quick to criticize those who are defiant towards these precious emblems, but what about those people who are simply indifferent towards them. They see a flag burning, but it doesn’t really move them, they stand to sing the national anthem but don’t even know all the words let alone their meaning, nor have they ever taken the time to visit a war memorial. 

We take our freedom for granted. We have become a culture that has grown to believe that we are entitled to freedom and want to exercise every right that comes with it, but refuse to consider or acknowledge that their must be a price paid for it. 

There was a hefty price paid for the freedom we enjoy in this country, but there was an even greater price paid for our spiritual freedom. 

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, February 12, 2018

When God bends down to listen (Pt. 2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”-Psalm 116:1-2

I love what this passage tells us about God’s reaction to our prayers. God’s bending to hear our voice communicates three important truths. First, His bending low proves that He is interested. Psalm 18:6 states:

“But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.”

Sometimes we pray like God is disinterested or far removed from our situation. We cry out to God like He is far away and needs us to clamor for His attention; when in reality the moment we open our mouths to pray, we capture His attention, and He bends down to listen.

Secondly, God’s bending low to listen shows His intentions:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.”-Jeremiah 29:11

God intends to listen to and answer our prayers. He has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. Plans to for good and not evil. Plans to give us hope and a future, but we must take time to pray and take time to listen.

Lastly, God’s bending low shows intimacy:

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”
-James 4:8

Sometimes we stop praying because we think He is too busy, too many other things clamoring for His attention, too many other people calling His name. But I am reminded by something Jesus said in John 11:41-42:

So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”

The moment we say, “Father”…He bends down to listen!

I love this quote by A.C. Dixon that really drives home the value of prayer:

“When we depend on organizations, we get what organizations can do; when we depend on education the get what education can do; when we depend upon man, we get what man can do; but when we depend upon prayer, we get what God can do!”

The greatest thing that I learned from spending eight days with our missionary friends is this: Prayer is the most valuable resource that I have. Prayer captures God’s attention. So, what are you going to do with it when you have it!

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

When God bends down to listen (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.”-Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)
One thing that going on a missions trip does is give you tons of perspective. Not just new perspective on life, but fresh perspective of God’s Word. At times it feels as if Scripture is leaping off the page at you as it illustrates itself through the lives of those around you.

Recently several members of our church traveled to Cambodia to serve at a school and orphanage in Sihanoukville. This picture captured one of our mission team members, Chris Mroz of Princeton, as he bent down to talk to one of the students at the school. It is by far my favorite picture taken on the missions trip because it captured the heart of Psalm 116:1-2.  

At 6’4” tall, Chris was literally the big man on campus all week. Nevertheless, although his stature may have seemed imposing, Chris is a gentle giant and every kid on campus knew it within 20 seconds of him stepping out of the van.

It’s a wonder that Chris did not have back issues after this trip from spending the week bent down in this position. However, if a child stopped to talk to him, he refused to tower over them, but rather bent low to hear their voice and talk to them. The thing that I noticed most was that there was not one kid who was intimidated by the size of Chris’s frame, because they were completely enraptured by the size of his heart!

You see, when Chris wasn’t bending down to them, he was lifting them up to his level; holding them in his arms or tossing them in the air. Either way, he spent his time face to face with those kids and each of them responded with love, respect, and joy because they knew they had captured his attention.

When we pray, likewise, we invite the presence of God. We get God’s attention as He bends down to hear our voice. The question becomes what are you going to do about it? 

How do you respond knowing that you just gained an audience with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? You have His full attention, but does He have yours?

Pastor Scott Burr

Dayspring Community Church

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Over-Inflated Faith (Pt.2)

(Part 2 of 2)

“Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.”-Mark 14:39-40

Where did all their proud boasting go? These die hard believers that were, hours before, willing to lay down their lives for Jesus; couldn’t keep their eyes open for one hour to pray with Him. The sad reality is that a man will never die for Jesus if they aren’t first committed to pray with Him. Gethsemane always comes before Calvary. The truest test of our faith is not our willingness to die, but our willingness to pray.

The problem for many is that prayer is not as colorful as martyrdom. There are no books like Foxes Book of Martyrs geared towards those, who rather, lived a life of consistent prayer. We’ve romanticized martyrdom and marginalized prayer.

However, Jesus said in Luke 9:23:

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

Usually when quoting this passage we recite it like this: “Jesus said take up your cross and follow me.” We leave out the “give up your own way” part of the passage. Nonetheless, that is precisely what Jesus did at Gethsemane:

He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

In prayer, Jesus laid down His will for the Father’s will. Why? Because Gethsemane always comes before calvary. Living a crucified life is rooted in prayer. You can tell God all day long how much you love Him and how you would do anything for Him; but if you fail to prioritize prayer you are offering Him hollow words. Peter’s unwillingness to pray ultimately resulted in his denial of Christ. This after, Jesus had graciously tried repeatedly to wake Peter up from his slumber, knowing that his prayerlessness was going to lead him into sin.

These Scripture should give us pause and cause to to stop and consider if our prayer life is reflective of a person who would truly die for Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10:

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

Our fellowship in Jesus’ suffering doesn’t begin at the cross, it begins at the rock where He shed tears like drops of blood in prayer. So before we boast of the great faith that we carry, let us first stop and ask ourselves if our prayer time truly reflects our testimony.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church