The Voyager: Encouragement for Life's Journey
Below you will find articles from our Church's leadership meant to encourage you and give you insight into questions about life, faith, and God.
“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.’” (Luke 9:23, NLT)
“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:27, NLT)
As indicated in the title, this is Part 2 of a blog that I started on May 21, 2020. If you have not read Part 1, you can do so by using the following link:
God has been teaching me about the reality of what it means to carry my cross and follow Him. It is an ongoing journey of experiential learning, a journey in which the Holy Spirit is progressively applying the truth of the Bible to my daily life.
“For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:21–25, NLT).
As we learned in Part 1 of this blog, the example established by Jesus to which 1 Peter 2:21 refers is the reality of how He dealt with the offenses that others committed against Him. Jesus used those offenses as a context by which He made life available to others. Before the offenses occurred, Jesus purposed in His heart to be the means by which salvation was brought to all who acted offensively against Him, encompassing those who were culpable in the immediate situation as well as all of us who have insulted and dishonored Him by our sin. This is the example that God wants to enable us, by His Spirit, to follow.
How do we do this? What does this look like in the context of daily life?
Jesus purposed in His heart how He would handle the offenses before they occurred. For us to be channels of God’s purposes through the offenses we suffer, we must purpose in our hearts to be so before the offenses occur. If we are currently struggling with offense, we must choose how we are going to take the next step in effectively addressing the offense. We must make that decision before the next step is taken, not decide in the moment we are taking that step. This is done in the context of our personal time spent with Jesus, in the time we make to be alone with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives, progressively transforming us to practically reflect the character of Jesus. Our public actions are determined by the priority we place on our private pursuit of God.
It is in the place of private pursuit that we can reflect the same heart that David expressed . . .
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NLT)
Repentant, specific surrender of all that is in us that offends God enables us to effectively handle the offenses of others. Death to our sin positions and authorizes us to deal with the sins of others according to God’s loving, eternal purposes.
“When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” (Isaiah 53:11, NLT)
The above passage from Isaiah, which is a prophetic pronouncement concerning Jesus, also applies prophetically to us as we allow the Holy Spirit to express the life of Jesus through our repentantly surrendered lives.
Jesus uniquely bore all the sins of humanity, taking the punishment of our sins in our place. No one else could ever do that. No one else needs to do so. That work was exclusively and permanently completed by Him. However, when people act and speak offensively against us, we bear the impact of their sinful choices. We suffer the pain that their course of action produces.
We follow Jesus’ example when we choose to see each offense against us as an opportunity to reflect the character of Jesus to those who are offending us. In those strategic moments, the Person of Jesus can be exhibited through us, showing people by our example that He is real. In the place of personal pursuit, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond to personal attacks with love, to insults with forgiveness, to disrespect with selfless patience, and to accusations with purposeful compassion. In doing so, we make it possible for others to see Jesus and to respond to the salvation that He offers to them. By seeing Him reflected through us, they can be drawn to Jesus and understand their need to know Him personally. As a result, they are attracted to the real life they see in us, to the freedom they wish they had.
Resounding through our lives, they will hear the Holy Spirit inviting them to trust in what Jesus did for them as the only way by which they are made right with God. As we respond to the experience of offense by following Jesus’ example, we will join God in making it possible for others to be counted as righteous before Him. This is the reality of Isaiah 53:11 being prophetically expressed through us.
God is calling us to see every offense we feel as a strategic, God-given opportunity to be coworkers with God in the fulfillment of His purposes in the lives of others. When we feel offense, we must see opportunity. That perspective is developed in the context of the private pursuit of God.
Get alone with God and allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart. As He illuminates your attitudes and motivations, repent of all that is contrary to Jesus’ character. God will empower you to walk in freedom over offense as you join Him in using the offenses you feel to bring His life to others.
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston
Don't ever give up in praying for your family!
I have a grandson who has been having a problem giving up drugs. He spent some time in jail and while there, accepted Jesus as his Savior and was baptized! He was fanatically saved and as soon as he was able to, they moved him to a Christian rehab house.
He moved forward in the Lord but as temptations arose he gave in and had to go back to jail to finish this time. After he got out again, he struggled with temptations and moved away from the Lord. God is faithful and caused his insurance company to move him to a rehab in Florida near his dad. He is now back walking with the Lord and doing great. They're moving him forward in the program at a fast pace. When he leaves there, his plans are to live with his dad and make his home in Florida.
This is an answer to a prayer to get him away from the influences in the state where he was. I believe that God has great plans to use this young man in His kingdom work. Don't give up in praying for your families! It's in God's timing that your prayers will be answered.
"He sent his word and healed them" (Psalms 107:20).
There is no distance in prayer!
One morning I came into the church office and the telephone rang. One the other end of the phone was a person needing prayer. I'm so glad there are no boundaries with God. To my knowledge this person has not been to our church building and we have never met face to face.....but we have the same heavenly father. This person needed a physical healing in their back.
There were two of us in the office and we agreed with this person in prayer for healing. After a few moments of praise and prayer this person was healed of the pain in their back. To God be all the glory!
A few months ago in Children's Church, an 8 year old girl kept coughing and complained about her cold. Keith Mullican, our children's ministry leader, wrote out I Peter 2:23 on a white sheet of copy paper and gave it to her. He told her that she WAS healed because Jesus already paid the price for her healing. The next day, she went to the doctor and was fine. She was in church recently, and pulled a piece of paper out of her backpack. It had been folded crookedly and kept in a safe pocket. Mr. Keith asked her what it was, and she opened it up to show him the verse he had written out months ago. She said every time she starts to feel bad, she reads it again. God healed her with his word!
Around May, Mr. Keith had a really bad pain in his back, and God prompted him to have another little girl lay hands on his back and pray for him. She said she did not know how. So he showed her and prayed with her repeating what he said. His pain went away slowly over the next 24 hours. Then a few weeks later, a 6 year old boy told Mr. Keith that his back was hurting. He called the girl who had learned how to pray and had her lay hands on his back and pray for healing. In a few minutes, Mr. Keith asked how his back felt now. He answered with wide eyes, "Is that magic?" We explained that God is not magic, but healing is almost like that to our minds. Praise God for healing and using our children in ways they did not think possible!
"'Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,' says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, 'I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!'" Malachi 3:10
We started tithing out of obedience giving 10% of our income. God began to bless and as our relationship grew with Him, we started giving more out of love! (not of duty).
In 2004 we started a business. There were two ladies in our local fellowship that prayed everyday for our business to grow. As our business grew we decided to "try God" in our giving. As we doubled our giving, God began to bless more and more. God gave the increase. The more we gave to God the more he blessed us and gave to us.
God gave protection, healing and provision. He met our every need.We know by experience that you can never outgive God!
Try Him and See. He is a loving God and always faithful to His Word.
Pastor Herrill & Dorothy Herring
Pastor of Senior Ministries