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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Even if You Don't (Pt. 3)

(Part 3)

“Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”-Daniel 3:13-18

God has called us to worship Him for who He is, and not simply for what He can do for us. There is probably no other story in Scripture that captures this better than Daniel 3:13-18. 

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego are faced with a dilemma. Worship the statue of gold set up by King Nebuchadnezzar or face being thrown into a fiery furnace. The faith of these men is about to be tested. How will they respond to Nebuchadnezzar’s edict? More importantly, how will they be affected by God’s response?

These men’s faith was not dictated by what God could or could not do; nor was it rooted in what they believed He would do. They simply worshipped God for who He was and trusted Him with the outcome. Their declaration of faith still echoes in our hearts today: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

Many of you are familiar with the popular hymn, It Is Well, by Horatio Spafford. Spafford’s daughters died when their boat sank on the way to Europe. Spafford had stayed back to finish up some business before boarding the next ship out. His wife, who survived the shipwreck, messaged him: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” Spafford took the next ship out and when passing over the spot where his daughter’s perished penned these words:

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, It is well with my soul.”

Events like this can cripple a person’s faith in God and cause them to become angry; or they can drive a person deeper into the arms of God. As believers we will continue to pray and believe that He will show up in our circumstances, but even if He doesn’t we will keep our trust in HIm. 

Pastor Scott Burr

Dayspring Community Church  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Even if you don't (Pt.2)

(Part 2 )

“The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them and catch up with them. I will plunder them
and consume them. I will flash my sword; my powerful hand will destroy them.’ But         you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. “Who is like you among the gods, O Lord—glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders? You raised your right hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies.”-Exodus 15:9-12

The Israelites, early on, worshipped God for what He could do. They would praise Him for performing great wonders, however, when God didn’t appear to be coming through for the, over and over they would complain about it:

“At the Lord’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin[a] and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. 2 So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?”-Exodus 17:1-2

From Marah to Rephidim, the Israelites complained about God’s lack of provision, even after He repeatedly and miraculously met their needs in every circumstance. They went from praising God for His mighty works to complaining about His expediency. It begs the question, Is God only God when He is performing in a way that benefits us or that we approve?We praise Him when He shows up in a person’s life and delivers them from cancer, but what about the times that He doesn’t show up and that person dies? Is God, still not God?

I am reminded of the book of Job:

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”-Job 1:8-11

Satan challenged God with this argument: the reason Job serves you is because you constantly protect him and prosper him. Take it all away and see if he is so quick to serve you. Don’t answer all his prayers and see what that does to his faith. So God allowed Satan to rob Job of his wealth, health and family. And when pressed Job makes this bold declaration: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”-Job 13:15

Many people point to those moments of suffering and perceived injustices to define God’s character; to vilify Him and challenge His goodness. If God is so good, they ask, then why didn’t He stop this? Yet, they themselves give no heed otherwise to His word, doctrine or instruction, which in many cases could have, if it had been followed, avoided the tragedy all together. The tendency, however, is to exclude God from most every area of our lives until there is a tragedy and then they cry out to Him to step in and intervene and when He doesn’t we become angry at God. This has caused many to dismiss Him because He didn’t intervene as they had hoped or expected.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Monday, March 5, 2018

Even if You don't (Pt.1)

(Part 1 of 2)

“After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife. David begged God to spare the child. He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground. The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused. Then on the seventh day the child died. David’s advisers were afraid to tell him. “He wouldn’t listen to reason while the child was ill,” they said. “What drastic thing will he do when we tell him the child is dead?” When David saw them whispering, he realized what had happened. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate.”-2 Samuel 12:15-20

Have you ever experienced a moment when you were angry with God, because He didn’t come through for you as you’d hoped He would? Have you ever prayed for something repeatedly, fasted, and pleaded with God to show mercy in a certain situation and it feels as if God was ignoring you?

In this story King David had just been rebuked by the Prophet Nathan. David, during a time when he should have been out to war with his men, had stayed back in Jerusalem. It is during that time that he saw and became intimate with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah; one of the soldiers under his command. She became pregnant, and after unsuccessfully trying to get Uriah to sleep with her to cover up what had happened, David had Uriah killed in battle. Nathan rebukes David and we see according to 2 Samuel 12, the child born to David & Bathsheba becomes ill.

David’s response to these tragic turn of events was to pray. He pleased with God and fasted, crying out to God for mercy night after night. Yet, despite all his efforts, his son dies. David had made some sever mistakes, but he was also the one to whom God referred to as a man after His own heart. Was David’s repentance and cries for mercy not genuine? If you take time to read Psalm 51 you will hear David’s heartfelt repentance over his sinful choices. So why did God not answer? Why did God allow that child to die? Why does God allow bad things to happen when it is in His power to stop it?

These are the thoughts that we’ve all had at one time or another. I am sure that they ran through David’s mind as well. However, when news of his son’s death reached him, he did something that caught even his closest servants off guard. He got up off the ground, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.

Even though God didn’t answer David’s prayer as he had hoped, David’s hope remained in God alone. When his cries for mercy went unanswered, he turned his attention to worship. David worshipped God for who He was, not simply for what He could do. David’s worship wasn’t based on what God did for Him, but who God was to Him.

Pastor Scott Burr

Dayspring Community Church

Ransomed! (Pt.2)

(Part 2)

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”- 1 Corinthians 6:20

There was a heavy price paid for the freedom we enjoy in this country, but there was an even greater price paid for our spiritual freedom. Your ransom wasn’t cheap! It didn’t just cost Jesus His life. There was an immense amount of suffering that went along with it. His beating at the whipping post, His beard ripped out, the crown of thorns that dug deep into His brow, the mocking, the shame of the cross, the nails that pierced His hands and feet, and the spear that pierced His side combined to compound the agony Jesus experienced as He stood in for you and I.

But, why? Why did Jesus go to those links? Because that is what it cost to ransom you:

“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”-Hebrews 10:10-14

The writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:4 that “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” No animal would ever be a fitting substitute or meet the demands of sin. Only a man could ransom mankind. Only a sinless man, could become our substitute and not only would He have to die, He would have to offer His blood as atonement for our sins.

“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”-Hebrews 9:22

When we receive communion in our worship services, it is not simply a reminder of what Christ paid for us, it is a reminder of what we did not have to pay. Conceivably that is why so many people are disengaged when it comes time to receive communion. Because somebody else paid our price, it’s possible that we don’t really understand how much it cost. Let’s be honest, just as Hebrews 12:4 declares:

            “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

When we take communion I wonder if it might be better if the juice were sour and the bread stale and tasteless: a reminder of the suffering and difficulty that Jesus experienced on our behalf; but perhaps it is better just the way that it is, because the then the taste of communion reminds us of the sweet sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
When we receive communion we are declaring to God and everyone around us that we recognize that Jesus offered up His body and His blood as a ransom for our sin. We did nothing to earn it, we certainly do not deserve it, but by His grace and mercy He laid down His life for us.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

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