Pastor’s Blog

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men…

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does. Ephesians 6:7-8
 
Yesterday in the service we talked about how all members of the church are to be servants. God set it up this way, that all members serve God and others. God has even given us leaders in the church to help us grow in this way. We are given servants in the church who lead and in doing so breed other servants. But then many times we as servants stop serving as we should. Have you ever wondered why?
 
Why do Christians shrink away from serving others with zeal? Every time the Christian gives of himself in service and the recipient still isn’t satisfied or when He serves faithfully and one time drops the ball then receives criticism, his spirit withers a bit more. We wonder, “Why bother?” The ingratitude is harsh and only the bad is magnified.
 
The issue is to clarify why we serve, not whimper over ingratitude from whom we serve. Our motive must be to please God, not men. The key is the personal relationship with Christ. The focus must not be on serving others or on being served. The focus must be on Jesus, on becoming so absorbed in the relationship with Him that every other thing is a response to our relationship. We don’t serve men; we serve God. Have no expectations of men. Focus on the personal relationship with Him, and there will be an overflow available for others.
 
Look to Christ alone for gratitude. If you serve Christ, then you will remember to look to Him for your approval, not to the applause of human sympathy. He will reward you for serving others; in fact, He is the reward. When someone feels you let them down, you can surrender that relationship to Christ. You are serving Him only; He will give you the strength to serve that same person more. You may want to flee from the ingratitude but Christ will empower you to be a servant if you take on His attitude.
 
It can only come by devotion to the personal relationship. The personal relationship with Christ is the restoring power for our relations with others. When people begin to wear you down, let it remind you that you are not in the overflow. It is time to go back to the well of Christ. Are you beat down because your service has not been appreciated? Go to Him and be filled to overflow. Then you can serve with gratitude. Your expectations will be supernaturally provided and your reward will be growth in the relationship with Christ.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. Proverbs 19:23

What is the fear of the Lord? And how can we get it into our lives? The fear of the Lord is to love what God loves and to hate what God hates. The fear of the Lord is both positive and negative.
 
Love Wisdom: The positive is to love what God loves—wisdom. The fear of the Lord is to love wisdom. “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom” (Proverbs 2:1-2,5-6) To love wisdom is to fear the Lord. “‘The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom’” (Job 28:28). The person who would understand the fear of the Lord will love what God loves. So he will love wisdom. Wisdom comes from God alone. Many want to add their own unique theories to the wisdom of God. When we add to the wisdom of God, it does not become the wisdom of God plus something, but the wisdom of God minus something. Can we lead a rebellion against the eternal God? Can we be His teacher? Let us learn to love the wisdom of God, and then we will understand the fear of the Lord.
 
Hate Evil: The negative is to hate what God hates—evil. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13). “Through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil” (Proverbs 16:6). “To shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). The person who would understand the fear of the Lord will hate what God hates. What differentiates the person who understands the fear of the Lord from the one who does not? The person not gripped by the fear of God tolerates evil. The person gripped by godly fear cannot tolerate evil because God does not tolerate evil. He hates evil with the intensity that God hates evil, or at least he tries to. He is a reformer, and his hatred of evil does not allow him to tolerate sin.
 
This is the an!dote for disobedience: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Though we have lost the fear of the Lord, our duty is to find it again. The fear of the Lord is the andote for disobedience. The Hebrew people pledged obedience to God when Moses declared the ten commandments to them. God responded to their pledge: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always” (Deuteronomy 5:29). God links obedience to the fear of the Lord—it is the andote for disobedience. Learn to understand the fear of the Lord. Surrender to it. Love wisdom and hate evil.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Helps for Spiritual Growth

Not many people when they are saved ever have anyone to explain to them how to spiritually grow. Some never learn to grow in grace. Yet Peter instructs believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 3:18) the Bible helps us with some guidelines.
 
1. We are responsible after salvation to renew our minds (Rom.12:2) = God saves us and gives us a new Spirit but we are responsible for meditating on the Bible. Meditation on the word transforms us by renewing our mind. Meditation involves thinking about what the words mean and then applying the truth we discover.
 
2. Throughout our growth process we must admit and take responsibility for our sin. = Whenever we deny our sin we delay our spiritual growth. Whenever we confess our sin growth becomes inevitable. James (5:16) “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed”
 
3. After confession always repent = Repent means make a turn around and head in the opposite direction, from sin, back to God. Paul made it clear to new converts “that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20).
 
God’s goal is for all believers to become more Christ-like. These steps will help us move in the right direction.
 
In His Service,
 
Eric Barnes


For God has not given us the spirit of fear…

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Many of us struggle with how we should respond to people or situations that bring us fear. Paul had advice for Timothy on how we should respond to these moments or circumstances in life.
 
1.Ask for God’s strength, power, or help= When fear grips you ask for God’s help. Tap into His power. That means keeping your focus and trust in His strength to be able to accomplish what you can’t on your own. God alone makes us capable to do all He is asking us to do in this life so look to Him for empowerment.
 
2.Ask for God’s love to fill your heart= When God is asking you to serve Him in this life. You Ask him to give you His heart for others and trust He will give you the love and tools to accomplish His will in your ministry. Personally, I am scared every time I am going to visit the sick or dying, every time I do a funeral, and every time I preach. So I ask for God’s power or strength but then I ask for God overwhelming love for that individual, family, or sinner to drive my actions. It is God’s overwhelming love for those in need that drives me to do what must be done. His love replaces my fear which is what we are told in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; for perfect love cast out fear”
 
3.Ask God to help you body and mind operate according to His will and His Word= Paul says we have a spirit that brings us a sound mind or self control. I can be honest I don’t possess either of those without God’s spirit possessing me. The more I give my will over to His and just follow His leading the less I fear the results or consequences. I don’t fear because I know things will turn out exactly as God intended.
 
So the next time you face anything that brings you to the point of fear, ask God for His power, love, and will to take over then do whatever the Spirit leads– you will be amazed at how strong and of good courage you can be!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Why do we go through valley’s in life?

Adversity, trials, and heartaches can be the place for great lesson and growth, a school of experience. They can bring us to a place of insight and understanding; they can alter our view of the world and God. Ultimately it can lead to changed behavior. God is the one who can teach us through adversity so it is to Him we should look for answers in our time of adversity.
 
1.God uses adversity to get our attention. = adversity is not the only way God can get our attention but it is one way. The reason is when adversity strikes we are more apt to look to God for help or answers. So don’t delay in responding to the Lord when He moves to get your attention, respond quickly, humbly, and patiently in the midst of adversity. Get very familiar with Psalm 25 “O my God, I trust in you… Show me your ways. O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation, on you I wait all day.
 
2.Attention to area leads us to personal examination= Adversity forces us to look at areas in our life in a more focused and serious way. We start to see things as they really are, the chinks in the armor. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:28 to “let a man examine himself”—- take a close look and see what is real! God desires us to have a clean and usable vessel so he wants us to see the areas that need fixed or removed. The Lord may allow adversity to lead us to those areas and desire fixing.
 
3.Ultimately God uses this adversity to lead us to changed behavior= The lessons that the Lord teaches us through adversity are ultimately for the purpose of change in belief and behavior. It isn’t enough that the Lord gets our attention or that we self-examine, or even that we see our problems or needs. Unless it results in change we will never fully grow as intended.
 
If you are willing to allow God to reveal the trash of your life, and if you are willing to change what needs to be changed, you will emerge from adversity closer to Christ, more mature as His child, and with much greater potential for kingdom use in the world.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The meaning of the word redemption…

You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The meaning of the word redemption would have been much clearer to the apostle Peter’s readers than it is to us today. Back in his time, there were millions of slaves who could have been redeemed from slavery if someone had been willing to pay the stipulated price to buy their freedom. Then, if they had been redeemed, they could have not only have been brought out of the slave market, but they would also have been free to serve their new owner.
 
Just the same, we are born into the slave market of sin, and as we grow up we prove our sinfulness by personally sinning, and we compound our guilt by justifying our sin to ourselves and to others. We cannot pay our own purchase price of redemption, for, spiritually speaking, we are bankrupt, hopelessly indebted and unable to change our current standing.
 
Praise Jesus who came to do what we could not. Listen to His own job description: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He paid a price that we could not, and He did it to set us free from our slavery to sin and Satan. Redemption, then, is the means by which salvation is achieved—namely, by the payment of a ransom. To redeem is to “buy out of a marketplace.”
 

In the above passage Peter (1:18-19) stresses two facts:

1. He details our need to be bought out of the slavery of sin, which he describes as an “empty way of life” handed down from our forefathers. Our predicament is that we cannot redeem ourselves because we do not have a perfect payment that God would accept.
 
2. Peter stresses the awesome nature of the payment made for us. Silver and gold are usually thought to be among the safest investments for preserving our money. Peter calls even these valued assets “perishable things” in contrast to the incomparable value of “the precious blood of Christ.” Which also means we are indeed valuable, for we have been bought at high cost.
 
What are the implications of our redemption? Most importantly we now belong to God and are no longer subject to our former masters—namely sin and the devil. In the words of Paul, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Thanks to Jesus, who paid the ransom, we have now officially switched owners, and both our identities and destinies have been forever changed. Redemption means that someone loved us enough to buy our freedom. To Him we should gladly give our deepest loyalty and praise.
 
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


But now the Lord says

But now the Lord says: Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. (1 Sam. 2:30)

 
The question is how can I be the kind of faithful person God honors? If you are a person who desires the favor of God Hebrews 6:11-12 has some advice: “show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

 

In order to understand this we need to look at a guy like Abraham. He displayed great faith and patience. Remember when God called Abram to leave his homeland for a place unknown Abraham displayed great faith and diligence: “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him.” (Gen 12:4)
 
Remember when God told Abraham that he would have a son, even though his wife Sarah was already 90yrs. old. (Gen. 17:17-19) Abraham believed and God rewarded his trust and displayed his own faithfulness a year later by giving Isaac to Abraham and Sarah.

 

Remember when Abraham heard God tell him to sacrifice the son for whom he had waited? Abraham faithfully obeyed God and was blessed for his devotion (Gen. 22:1-18)

 

If we desire God’s favor and blessing we need to mirror Abraham’s patience, faithfulness, and diligence. God desires to bless us and looks for reasons to do so— so let’s give Him ample reason.

 

In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Therefore, holy brothers and sisters…

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. (Hebrews 3:1)

 
This verse is so great for our assurance as a believer.

 

1.Holy brethren= Anyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. “Holy” signifies that believers have been set apart for God. God sees you as unique not because of salary, profession, appearance, or nationality but because of your status as a child of God. This is your identity.
 
2.Partakers of a heavenly calling= your destination is heaven. Your heart resides where the home is with Christ. You no longer search for satisfaction from your temporary dwelling (earth). No matter the circumstance you find yourself in, you can rejoice because this life doesn’t hold you- God does. You don’t have to listen to the world for approval to be “good enough”, it is your identity in Christ that completes you. You or no one else can add to or take away from this.
 
3.Jesus as apostle and high priest= As apostle he represents God to man. When wanting to know what God is like or would do all we need to do is look at Jesus. As High priest he represents man to God. God sees us children through the lens of His blameless and Holy son. This verse has a command “consider Christ Jesus.” The word consider means to observe or to think. We are to observe Christ, meditate on Him, and imitate Him. Let the assurance of your identity, home, and Lord inspire you to explore new depths of God and serve Him with all your heart.
 

In His Service,

Eric Barnes



Don’t get caught up!

I remember being in college and climbing the hill behind my house with God’s word and a sack of lunch. I used to spend a lot of time this way just being in God’s presence, spending time in His Word, and thinking about life. I remember one day looking down off the hill and seeing the traffic on the highway and then looking out over this whole end of town seeing cars and people going like crazy. I remember praying to God asking to never let me get caught up in the rat race of life– let me keep it in perspective and keep me free of it all. That was about 26 years ago and I’d love to say I never got caught up in it all, I could rationalize and say I have done better than most, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been occasionally caught up in it all. We all can be!

 
The rat race as a Christian by definition is the conflict between who I am created to be (2 Corinthians 5:7, 17) and who I am tempted to be (1 Timothy 6:9). I am a new creation and I was created to live by faith, not by sight, to be at home with God away from the body. As long as I am here I am to live to please Him by allowing my life to be all about my relationship with Him.
 

However I, and all of us, are being tempted to make life about something different. See we are being ‘cut in on’ by the temptations and teachings of the world as Paul says in Galatians 5:7-9, it is like yeast that works it’s way into the whole batch of dough. We get caught up chasing the riches and pleasures of the world rather than the riches of God available to us through Jesus Christ. Paul explained to Timothy how it works in 1 Tim. 6:9 “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” You see men who get success sickness fall into temptation! A trap! A rat trap that plunges themselves into many harmful things. This is the man  you are tempted to be. This verse and other verses like it (ie. Romans 1:21-25) tell us that we exchange the truth of God for a lie and the glory of God for idols. This is the man you and I are tempted to be.

 
This year lets become more aware of our lives, have we fallen in the trappings of the world or is life about the glory of and relationship with God. Let us not run the rat race but– “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1. This year let’s be found faithfully running the right race!
 

In His Service,

Eric Barnes



Blessed are the Poor!

Isaiah prophesied the words eight centuries before Christ coming: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners” (Isa. 61:1) How amazing when Jesus later read this and proclaimed its fulfillment. How much more amazing was it that when Jesus did come to earth it was the poor shepherds, the rustic field hands that first received and proclaimed this news to others.
 
Isn’t it great when the poor or downtrodden get good news? Good news more often finds the rich or well to do. On this divine night the poor or simple got the news first. The rich or higher ups had no idea of its happening.
 
The shepherds response was amazement, wonder, joy, and proclamation. We sing of it still today in songs like “Good Christian Men Rejoice”. This was news made especially for the poor! This Jesus/Savior the angels proclaimed would take away their sins. Good news for all with sins be you rich or poor, yet it seems to me the humble and poor in physical state are less school in smugness so they are more honest about their sins – making them more open to receive the good news.
 
This Christmas no matter what your physical surrounding or your financial standing is, let us all realize we are spiritually bankrupt before a Pure and Holy God. We are all poor and in great need of a Savior King born to free us. So let us think about the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3) as He shares that “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Let us all respond like the Shepherds in amazement, let’s gather around the manger of our LORD and worship Him, then let us go and proclaim His saving power to all the other poor people in need of salvation.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes