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
"'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
“You are the God of miracles and wonders! You still demonstrate your awesome power.” (Psalm 77:14 TLB)
What is the miracle you need in your life? What are you asking God for? All of us have some area where we need God to intervene. Maybe you are facing an illness, overwhelming debt, or you are struggling with depression or in a tense relationship. Even people who wouldn’t consider themselves religious will often turn to prayer during hard times, hoping that maybe heaven is listening.
It is not unusual to wrestle with doubts and questions even while we are hoping that God will come through for us. Here are three questions we most often wrestle with as seek God for the miracles we need.
1. Can God?
Can God heal me? Can he deliver me? Can he provide for me? This is probably the easiest to answer. Of course God can. He is all powerful. God can in one moment take someone from death’s doorstep to perfect health. He can with one word erase the depression and anger we fight against every day. He has no limits to his provision and could easily provide for all our needs and even our wants without sacrificing anything. In fact, we are so convinced that God can that when God doesn’t some of us decide there must not be a God or maybe that God doesn’t love us and so that is why he doesn’t intervene. Surely if God exists and he loves us, he would intervene. This leads to the second question:
2. Does God want to?
Maybe you have settled the question as to whether God can but you wonder if he really wants us to be healed, delivered, and provided for. Any good Father would want his children to have the best possible life. We read the memes citing Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you… They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” If this is true, why do we still experience disasters? Of course we may not realize that the context of Jeremiah 29:11 is that the Israelites are going to spend 70 years in exile before they experience the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. God did want a good future for his people and he knew the way to get them there was to work on what was inside of them first before delivering them from the outside circumstances. This leads to the third question:
3. Will God?
Will God heal, deliver, and provide for us? If he can and he wants to then why wouldn’t he? As I ponder that question myself I can hear the Father ask me his own questions.
God is still and always will be God. His nature is unchanging. If our circumstances cause us to question if he is good and loving then we know that there must be something inside us that needs to change. Our faith ultimately shouldn’t be in what God can do for us but in who he is. Romans 4 uses Abraham as an example of someone who despite what his circumstances looked like, he trusted God because of who God is. As we grapple with the questions of why miracles do or don’t happen and why some prayers seem to go unanswered we must not let go of our assurance in the goodness and love of God.
The next time you pray ask God to show you how you can participate in seeing a miracle done in your life!
Article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter, 4/29/20
Everyone has a worldview. In other words, we all have lenses through which we see the world. As Christians those lenses should be the Bible because the Bible communicates the authoritative standards of God’s truth to us. As I have watched the world and the church respond to this crisis, I see how far we have gotten from a biblical worldview. I see some of my brothers and sisters in Christ responding like the world with fear and conspiracy theories. On the other side of the spectrum, I also see believers responding with a presumptuous faith that lacks wisdom and is irresponsible with the lives of others. Below are three biblical truths we should consider as those who claim to love God and follow his Word. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will help us adjust our lenses as we begin to seek answers about how God would have us respond to this crisis.
1. God's Sovereignty does not dismiss our responsibility.
When we say that God is sovereign we mean that God is in charge of everything. He is after all the creator of everything so he should be in charge. However, God, in his sovereignty, created human beings to have a free will. It was God’s will that we would be able to choose to obey him or not. It was also God’s will to delegate responsibility to human beings as caretakers of his creation. God created Adam and Eve not to be robots that carry out his every dictate, but to be in relationship with him and to have a part to play in his sovereign will being done on earth.
When we choose not to obey God and not to be good caretakers then bad things happen. I have often heard people ask why God allows bad things to happen. That is a faulty question. God is not to blame for the bad things that happen in the world. Evil, suffering and sickness is a result of humanity choosing not to obey God and in so doing we side with the one who first rebelled against God, the devil. Sometimes we pay the consequences of our own choices. Other times the suffering we endure is because of a world system that has come under the influence of evil as a result of humanity’s disobedience. Either way, God is not to blame.
The good news is that God will use whatever we go through for our good if we trust him. He is always available to us through prayer. He hasn’t just left us to our own devices but he wants to help us in our weakness, often times in miraculous ways. It is our responsibility in a crisis such as this to turn to God, seek his will, obey his will, and ask for his supernatural help. He has promised that if we call to him he will answer us and show us “great and unsearchable things we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
2. Faith is not irresponsible.
Many times faith seems risky. Unreasonable even. But faith is never irresponsible or apathetic towards those impacted by our leaps of faith.
When your choices impact the lives of others then the governing parameter must be love. In fact, whenever our faith is not motivated by love we have to question who our faith is in because the Bible tells us that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that “what is important is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NLT).
This is especially important for Christian leaders whether of churches or businesses. You may have full assurance that your faith protects you from Covid-19 but do you have enough faith for your entire congregation or employees? Are you willing to make amends if your faith ends up not covering them and they contract the virus? Everyone is at different levels of faith. Jesus did not give up on the disciples when they were still growing in their faith but rescued them when their faith fell short (Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20). As Christian leaders we should encourage believers to have faith in God and at the same time make allowances if necessary to protect them should they waver in their faith.
3. Faith in God displaces fear.
Notice that I didn’t say faith that everything is going to work out or faith that we will overcome. Our faith must be in who God is – his faithfulness and power. The greatest example of faith in Scripture is Abraham and we are told in Romans 4:21 that against all the evidence to the contrary, he believed God would do what he promised. He knew the nature of God. That he was good and faithful and loving and able. In the same way our faith must be founded in who God is.
During a time in my life where I was struggling with fear and wavering in my faith, the Lord spoke to me and asked me what exactly my faith was based on? I realized at that time my faith was in God doing what I wanted him to do. I wanted him to come through for me in a specific way instead of trusting that no matter what my circumstances looked like he would work it all out for my good because he loves me. As I learned to trust God and not my circumstances the feelings of fear and instability decreased and my peace increased.
I learned that the way to increase faith is to feed my heart and mind with who God is. To meditate on his faithfulness and worship him for his goodness. This isn’t a denial of the circumstances, just a realization that God is bigger than any problem and loves me so much he will never abandon me to my circumstances. I don’t deny the reality of Covid-19. But I deny the power of fear and chaos in my life because my God is greater than any virus.
If you are battling fear during this pandemic, please let us agree in prayer with you. Contact us for prayer using this link.
article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter