We are excited to announce some new features to the blogsite. As more and more readers are viewing from foreign countries we have added the translate feature to the site. Our readers can also now choose to have the blog emailed to them, and they can search the blog by keywords on various topics. We hope that this makes the site more manageable for you. God Bless.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

“The Oil Press of Prayer”

(Part 1)

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today- yes, tonight- before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.”

Mark 14:27-31

As the disciples left the place of the Passover meal to make their way to the Mount of Olives, Jesus stirs the disciples up, once again, when he tells them that according to Zechariah 13:7 that a time is coming when they will all fall away! Zealous Peter can hardly contain himself! At the Passover meal, Jesus had inferred that one of them was going to betray him, now he informs them that in addition to this, all of them were going to fall away! It drove Peter to “insist emphatically” that even if he had to die, he would never disown Jesus.

Peter was about to learn a valuable lesson. One in which he would discover that passion is no substitute for preparation. During the Passover meal Jesus gave Peter this dire warning:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31

Peter was about to be pressed! All this transpired on their way to a place on the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane. Gethsemane when translated means “oil press”. It is here that the olives that were grown were placed in a large stone basin with a millstone upon them. Under the crushing, turning weight of the stone the olives were crushed into paste releasing the oil within.

As Jesus approached this place he began to become deeply distressed:
“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them, “Stay here and keep watch.”
Mark 14:32-34

Jesus understood that he was on his way to the cross. Soon he would be facing reproach, torture and death. He would soon feel the weight of the world’s sin poured out on him. He fell to the ground and began to pray fervently:

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22:43

Jesus, hours before his crucifixion, prepared himself for the unimaginable trial that was before him by pressing into a time of earnest prayer.

Pastor Scott Burr

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“Live Out the Word”

(Part 3 of 3)

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
James 1:26

Unlike other writers, James doesn’t focus on the dangers of false teachers and preachers creeping in and leading the sheep astray. Instead he focuses on the dangers of leading ourselves astray! Apparently there were those in James’ day that felt that merely “considering themselves” religious made their faith viable. However, James states that if anyone considers himself to be religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue…he is deceiving himself! James is showcasing the evident disconnect between their words and their deeds. A disconnect, that when seen by others, jeopardizes one’s effectiveness. Our religion becomes worthless if what we “say and do” don’t work in tandem to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith.

I wonder how many of us “consider ourselves” religious? Not in a legalistic sense, but in the sense that we see ourselves devoted to our faith in Christ. Are what we “say and do” in agreement? Many times our spiritual progress is not hindered by external forces pressing against us, but rather we undermine ourselves. We cripple our own walk with Christ and our spiritual effectiveness when our word and deeds do not line up.

James practical approach to his faith led him to this observation:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27

Notice that both of these instructions are “doing” statements! We are to “look after” widows and orphans. We are to “keep ourselves” from being polluted by the world. It takes more than “consideration” to live a life that is pleasing to God. It also takes application! In John 8:31-32, Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

It isn’t enough to know His Word, we must hold to it. Live it! That is when it really becomes truth to us! If you want the word of God to remain “living and active” in your life, then you need to begin responding to His Word. When you do…You will be blessed!

Pastor Scott Burr
“Live Out the Word”
(Part 2)
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
James 1:22

Listening to the Word of God and not putting it to practice produces very little fruit in our life. It’s like those “diet pills” they advertise on television… “Take one of these and in 37 seconds you’ll be razor thin with rock hard abs.” Of course, I am exaggerating a little bit, but the pictures they show would lead you to believe that the people they are presenting simply took that pill and in a few weeks that’s what happened to them. Inevitable every one of those ads will contain a little disclaimer at the end that reads- “Results not typical. Best results when used in combination with diet and exercise.”

Likewise, you can’t come to church on Sunday and Wednesday night and take your weekly dose of Bible and expect to wake up the next day with a transformed life. It must be put to practice.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face in a mirror, and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24

Too many of us have forgotten the truth we have heard and learned from Scripture over the years, not because it isn’t being taught, but because we have stopped living it! We have to be taught the same truths over and over again, as if we have forgotten, when more accurately we are simply not responding to what we are hearing and reading. Here are two examples:
James 5:13-15 declares:

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.”

How many of you when you are sick call on the elders of your church to pray for you and anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord? That truth will never become a reality in your life until you begin to respond to it!

Here’s another example found in Malachi 3:10-11:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty.”

Again we receive from the Lord an instruction and a promise. However, many people never experience the blessing, because they do not respond to His Word. It is not the man who hears the word that is blessed, but it is the one who looks into the law that gives freedom, continues to do so, not forgetting the truth he has learned, but rather puts it to practice that will be blessed:

“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it- he will be blessed in what he does.”
James 1:25

Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Live out the Word"

(Part 1)
“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to
speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
James 1:18-21

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any
double-edged sword, it penetrates soul and spirit, joint and marrow and judges
the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Is that how you would describe the
Word of God in your life? Or would you describe it as “dead and lifeless” or “alive
but dormant”?
James, as one of the original fathers of our faith, recognized very early the dangers of
allowing the Word of God to lose its power and potential in our lives. God’s
Word is always living and active! If there is an evident lack of its activity
in our life, we must look at what we are doing to muffle it! This begins by
evaluating our expectations. Are we prepared to receive?
Jameschallenges us to prepare ourselves three ways:
1. Be quick to listen. Too many people
come to hear, but don’t truly listen. When you come into a teaching service are
you positioned to receive or do you spend the majority of your time trying to
manipulate what you are hearing to meet up with what you want to believe or how
you want to live?
2. Be slow to speak. Often times, when
we do not like what we are hearing we immediately begin gauging our response or
building our argument against it. You cannot speak and listen at the same time.
You cannot fully be grasping what someone is trying to tell you if you are
already occupying your mind with your response or defense.
3. Be slow to anger. Are you “offended”
by God’s Word? Does preaching against sin upset you? Many people cannot receive
the Word because they do not fully subscribe to God’s standards for holiness
and righteousness.

Further, James instructs us that we cannot receive the Word of God if we have not rid
ourselves of “all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent”! It’s like
trying to plant a garden in a salvage yard. You can cast seed all over, but you
are not going to get much of a harvest. Instead you have to clean the debris
away so that the ground can receive the seed! Then we must “accept the word”!
God’s Word is life! As Christians, it is to be our all authoritative rule of
faith. It is what leads us and guides us. It is what saves us, but don’t be
deceived! Merely listening to it and appreciating its ideas will not transform
your life.
Pastor Scott Burr

Thursday, March 1, 2012

“Embracing Trials, Resisting Temptation, Accepting Consequences

(Part 4 of 4)

“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer, or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear than name.”
1 Peter 4:14-16

If we lose our job because we cussed out our boss, stole from the company or were habitually late…we are NOT suffering for Jesus! If we live beyond our means and accrue tremendous debt and then cannot pay our bills…we are NOT suffering for Jesus! These types of acts are not to be “counted all joy”, but rather they are to be repented of! Instead, many people become frustrated and angry at God for not delivering them out of the mess they’ve created. They have dug themselves into a hole and have lived there for years, and now expect God to bail them out.
Not everything we face is a trial!

Some things we face are temptations; other things we face are the consequences of our poor choices. In each difficulty we face, we must diagnose the problem in order to know how to respond to it.

When it comes to facing the consequences of our sin, the way out is to make right decisions. The way out of that hole, we have dug ourselves into, is to climb out one right decision at a time. We must take responsibility for our poor decisions, repent, and make good choices.

I have never heard someone say that their credit score and finances were a wreck because they “tithed” to their church! No, their finances are a mess because of poor spending habits, indebtedness, and lack of savings. How do they climb out?

• Tithe in obedience to God’s Word
• Get on a budget (live within your means)
• Stop going into debt
• Save some money

I have never heard someone say that their marriage is messed up because they spent time together at a marriage retreat! No, their marriages are usually a wreck because of selfish choices being made by one or both of them.

There is no way to undo bad decisions. You can only move forward by making right ones! In every situation where there is the potential to make the right choice, there is also the temptation to make the wrong one, however 1 Corinthians 10:13 declares:

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Temptations are to be resisted and in every temptation there is a way out if we will look for it!

Other times, unfortunately, we face things that are beyond our control. They cannot be resisted or climbed out of. These are “trials”! Trials are those things that God uses to test our faith. James tells us to rejoice and count them all joy, because through them we develop perseverance that leads to greater maturity and spiritual growth.

Whether you are in a trial, temptation or consequence there is a way out. It may be through perseverance, it may have to be resisted or you may have to climb out, but God is faithful to see you through every one.

Pastor Scott Burr