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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Low Cost of Human Life

"The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

                                                                                                Job 33:4

Over the past several months we have watched with horror as dozens of men, women and children have lost their lives through horrendous school shootings and senseless bombings. At Sandy Hook Elementary a gunman cut down countless grade school students without demonstrating an ounce of remorse. In Boston, two brothers are accused of using pressure cookers to maim and kill innocent women, children and runners at the Boston Marathon.  Why? It seems as though we have crossed a new threshold of depravity. How could these wicked men knowingly set out to kill children? The answer is simple, although not easy to accept. As a nation, we have so devalued the human life that it no longer considered sacred.

Every day, in this country, approximately 3,300 babies are aborted. That is over 1.2 million lives that are ended. Whether you consider the act of abortion murder or not, the killing of these defenseless, innocent children is clear evidence that the value of human life has been diminished.   In Philadelphia, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor, is on trial facing 4 murder charges for aborting children past the prescribed 24 weeks of viability.  Three of his staff members have already pled guilty to third-degree murder.  By legalizing the taking of human life, it was only a matter of time before abortion providers began to take liberties beyond the prescribed statutes of viability. Dr.Gosnell’s case is evidence that human life has no more value to abortion providers at 28 weeks as it did at 6 weeks.

However, the Word of God is clear about when God sees a life as being viable! In the Book of Jeremiah, God said:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

In God’s eyes, Jeremiah wasn’t a viable human life when he reached 24 weeks, his life had value, purpose and direction before God even formed him.

King David declared in Psalm 139: 13-14:

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

David’s life didn’t simply have value when he was born, but it is clear that his life had value while he was still in his mother’s womb.

The senseless school shootings and bombings are not going to end by passing more legislation.  The Boston bombing suspects were hatching out their plan while our politicians debated gun control and background checks. The answer to our dilemma is not more legislation, but for our society to once again place high value on human life.  Every child at Sandy Hook Elementary, the eight year old boy killed in the Boston bombing, and the millions of aborted children whose lives are ended each year were all viable human lives in God’s eyes. Were they to you?


Pastor Scott Burr


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The God Who Answers

(Part 3 of 3)

“Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again, he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.”

                                                                                                            I Kings 18:30-35

Glancing at this passage, one might assume that Elijah was sabotaging his own miracle! Pouring water over his sacrifice certainly wasn’t going to make lighting a fire easier. Elijah, however, didn’t just pour water over his sacrifice once. He poured water over it   three times. He poured and poured until the trench at the base of the altar filled up.  Why was Elijah doing this? He was preparing for God to answer!

Sometimes we pray and pray and wonder why God doesn’t answer. Often, it is because we are not in a position to receive. I remember tossing a ball to my son when he was just a little boy. I would tell him to put his hands out in front of him. When he extended his arms I would release the ball. I didn’t toss it to him until he was in position to receive it. A child who stands there and doesn’t put their arms out is either unwilling to receive or unprepared to receive. Elijah’s pouring of gallons of water over his sacrifice was a clear indication that he was ready for God to answer.

Elijah’s actions declared that he expected something! He didn’t expect to pray and feel a warm breeze. Neither was he looking for a small spark to fall down from heaven. No, Elijah expected the fire of heaven to fall on that altar. Elijah knew that he could have built his altar in the bottom of the ocean and God could have sent down a fire ball that licked up the waters and consumed his sacrifice!

When it came time for the evening sacrifice, Elijah stepped forward and declared:

“Answer me, O Lord; answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.”

                                                                                                            1 Kings 18:37-38

Elijah prayed like a man who knew that he served a God who hears and a God who answers! If we desire to see our prayer lives become powerful and effective we must remove the obstacle of sin, so God can hear us; we must stop wavering between two opinions, regarding who has the answer; and we must position ourselves to receive.


Pastor Scott Burr


Friday, April 12, 2013

The God Who Answers

(Part 2)

“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”

                                                                                                1 Kings 18:21

 Too often we waver between believing God and believing Baal! What is Baal? Baal is, most certainly, a false god; but it is also anything we trust in rather than God or above God.  Elijah demonstrated unwavering faith in God. The depth of Elijah’s faith is seen 1 Kings 18: 25-29:

“Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, and no one paid attention.”

Around midday, Elijah began to “bust their chops” a little bit. He taunted them to shout louder and he ridiculed their behavior.  As I read this, I thought to myself, these are big words from a man who still had a heap to pray over himself! However, Elijah knew from the start that nothing was going to happen for them. They shouted, danced, slashed themselves and frantically prophesied for hours and hours:

“But there was no response, no one answered, and no one paid attention.”

                                                                                                1 Kings 18:29

After allowing everyone to see that worshipping Baal was futile, Elijah then began to make provision for God’s answer! Before he prays a single word, Elijah begins to make preparations to receive from God. Elijah dug a trench, built an altar, arranged the wood and prepared the sacrifice; but then he does something unusual. Elijah, then, drowns the sacrifice, wood, and altar with water. He pours on so much water that the trench surrounding the altar fills up. He was so convinced that God was about to answer that he actually poured gallons of water on his own sacrifice. Elijah wanted to be certain that no one was mistaken! The god who answers? He is God!

 Pastor Scott Burr


Friday, April 5, 2013

The God Who Answers

(Part 1)

“Answer me, O Lord; answer me, so these people will know that You, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord- He is God! The Lord-He is God!”

                                                                                                1 Kings 18:37-39

Over the last several weeks we have learned a lot about the prophet Elijah. One thing we have learned is that he was an ordinary man, just like us, with an extraordinary prayer life. One reason for this was Elijah believed he served a God who hears. Isaiah 59:1 states:

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”

However, we also learned that we can sabotage our own prayer life by living in sin:

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.”

                                                                                                      Isaiah 59:2

It isn’t a lack of faith or doubt that hinders God hearing us, it is sin. Sin silences our petitions. Today we want to learn another truth from Elijah’s powerful prayer life. Elijah believed he served a God who answers! In 1 Kings 18:16-24, Elijah is speaking with King Ahab. In obedience to God, Elijah prayed and there has been no rain in Israel for months. Israel had become steeped in Baal worship. Prior to the drought, they had been attributing the rain and abundant crops to Baal, so God sent a prophet to confront their idolatry.  Israel, God’s chosen people, was wavering between two opinions and an epic showdown was about to unfold on Mt. Carmel. Elijah calls for the 450 prophets of Baal to join him. Two choice bulls are chosen. They are each cut to pieces and placed on a pile of wood- one for Elijah and one for the prophets of Baal. Elijah declared:

 “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire- he is God.”

                                                                                                1 Kings 18:24

Although severely outnumbered, Elijah never wavered. He wasn’t looking for answers from anything or anyone else, but the Lord his God. Regardless of what the majority believed, he knew that his God was about to answer!

Pastor Scott Burr