Memorial Day

This weekend Americans will commemorate Memorial Day. Many will gather in services or parades for grateful and cheerful celebrations. This is a good and appropriate thing to stop and remember. It is important that we remember the high price hundreds of thousands of soldiers have paid with their life-blood so that we can enjoy our political and religious freedoms. But this kind of remembering does not demand much of us, beyond not taking for granted our freedoms. There will be a brief remembrance, and then we’ll move on with our leisurely plans and full day of fun events.
 
But a Memorial Day kind of remembering will not be good enough for our suffering Christian brothers and sisters. The remembering that God requires of us demands sustained action: Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:3)
 
When the author of Hebrews tells us to “remember,” he isn’t talking about a fond, grateful private reflection. What he means is, “go help them,” and the original Greek means, “keep helping them.” When we remember our war dead, we don’t remember them as though we were dead with them. But we are to remember the imprisoned Christians “as though in prison with them.” We are to remember mistreated Christians as though we were sharing mistreatment. We are to react to our brothers’ and sisters’ affliction just like our entire body reacts to the pain when one member of our body is afflicted. God calls us to a demanding remembering.
 
In northern Iraq, Christians are being brutalized and exterminated. They are being beaten, imprisoned, raped, kidnapped, extorted, and murdered. Their homes are being stolen or destroyed. Their wives and daughters are being stolen and destroyed — sold into sex slavery. Christians in North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and a host of other nations are suffering under terrible adversity and persecution. In Pakistan the Christian minority population is under a constant threat of violence, 700 girls each year are kidnapped, sexually abused, and forced to convert to Islam.
 
We are called to act. “Remembering” in Hebrews 13:3 is an imperative. Involvement is not optional. Remembering our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ must move us to action. Christians bear a unique responsibility to care for other suffering Christians close or far. Therefore, the suffering of millions of Christians in the world is a concern for Christians everywhere who know about it. We must do what we can to help. We must make ourselves more aware, Pray — really pray for them, give whatever we really can, share their needs with other believers, and go if possible to aid them physically.
 
Americans, remember with appropriate gratitude this Memorial Day the military deaths that purchased your freedoms. But Christians, don’t remember your imprisoned and mistreated brothers and sisters like Americans remember their war dead. Hebrews 13:3 remembering demands action. We must not do nothing.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


We never know how God will use us!

After the fall of communism in Russia one American missionary team spread out across a Russian city to pray for the people’s hearts to be receptive to the Gospel of Jesus. One of the men was noticed in the city park by a Russian man who asked, “Are you from God?”
 
As they talked, the Russian man wanted to help so he asked if the team wanted some Russian Bibles. He led the way to a building just a few blocks away and introduced the Americans to the head of the KGB, who opened a large warehouse for them containing Bibles they had confiscated over the last 70yrs. They were now given permission to give these Bibles to the people. The overjoyed team quickly started to pass the Bibles out on the street corners all over the city and within a few hours all the Bibles had been handed out.
 
As the crowds dispersed, the Americans saw the Russian man that had originally helped them sitting on the curb with tears running down his cheeks. When they approached him, he pointed to the inside cover of the Bible that had been given to him and said, “This is my grandmother’s Bible! 20 years ago when I was in the Communist Youth Corps, she told me that Communism would not last but God’s Word would and the only answer for my life was Christ Jesus. I laughed at her and turned her in to the authorities. She was harassed and her things were confiscated. She died several years ago and I never forgot her words. Today I know there is a God and He is confirming the truth of her words to me. For only He could have made certain I received her Bible. Please tell me how can I know this Jesus!”
 
Hebrew 2 starts by letting us know God has always been revealing Himself to people in many ways throughout history. He has used angels, miracles, prophets, His Son and His Word to reveal Himself. You never know, He may want to use you to reveal Himself miraculously to someone. This is one of the things that make the Christian life so exciting. We never know when or where or to whom God might use us next. So just stay studied up, prayed up, and opened up to the move of God—be ready today may be that next opportunity.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Last night our small group was studying Jesus’ teachings on prayer from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7. The most important aspect, we all agreed on, is to “keep praying- never quit”. There is one account of prayer in history that always reminds me of this important fact.
 
As a young person , George Mueller, who became well known for his prayer life, began praying for five friends. After five years, the first one received Christ. In ten years, two more made decisions. Mueller stayed faithful for twenty-five years and the fourth man was finally saved. By the time the fifth man received Christ, George had died and gone to be with Jesus. Fifty-two years of prayer produced eternal fruit and saw the salvation of five people.
 
Luke 18:1-8 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
 
Is there someone or some situation you have been praying with no results? Be encouraged by this account. George Mueller may have thought of giving up on his friends, but he didn’t because he was trusting the Almighty God for the results. Continue to pray. God will answer you at the proper time.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Learn to Feed Yourself!

For decades, the bears of Yellowstone Park have been a famous tourist attraction. Back in 1983 a major Arctic cold front covered much of the United States with ice and bitter temperatures for two weeks. No one could get into the Park for those weeks. When the roads finally cleared, the rangers made a horrible discovery; dead bears were everywhere! At first the rangers assumed that they had frozen to death in the Arctic blast, but later they discovered that they had died of starvation. They had become so dependent on tourists and rangers for food that the bears starved when no one was there to feed them. The crazy truth is their natural food sources were still all around them but the bears simply had never learned to find the food and feed themselves.
 
Think of this in daily terms, what if a high school student’s mother had to show up to school everyday to feed their child because they never learned to feed themselves–crazy!!! How sad are these scenarios?
 
How many kids or youth never learn to feed themselves spiritually. They become totally dependent on their pastor, youth leader, Sunday school teacher, or parents for spiritual growth. Later, they leave the home and start adulthood without the ability to feed themselves spiritually. They are unable to stand against life’s hard circumstances.
 
Consider the scenario now– you, an adult reading this today, do you know how to study the Bible (feed yourself) do you know how to sustain your own spiritual life and continue to grow? If so, good, keep it up. If not, start today learning the habit or discipline of feeding on God’s word consistently. Jesus desires to daily nourish your soul through time spent with Him in His Word.
 
Decide now, this day, how you will learn and continue to feed yourself with God’s Holy Word! We should do as Paul instructed Timothy in (2 Timothy 2:15) “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The Church Testifies About Easter Everyday!

Back to work, back to the daily grind! This seems to be the way things are the day after Easter. Our worldly burdens push the thoughts of Christ’s resurrection out of our minds and we go back to our old lives, going about business as usual as if Christ was back in the tomb. It is almost like we watched some great show, when the music stops and the church service ends we applaud the performance and leave, marking our calendar as a reminder to see the show again next year.
 
Jesus is not a fictional character in a play. He no longer occupies a tomb and he lives in His glorified risen body and He continues to indwell and encourage His faithful through the Holy Spirit. When the faithful gather on each Sunday in church for worship they are testifying to the world that Jesus Christ is alive. His living body, the church, is in the world as a witness to God’s miraculous work in Jesus Christ. By the living Spirit of Christ the church is empowered to declare the truth of Christ’s resurrection. The church in the world physically speaks of the living Christ, who said, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again” (Luke 24:7). The church’s continued existence is proof that Christ is risen. The church lives in the world. The church is not a business or building but living proof of the Lord’s resurrection. The apostle Paul wrote, “The church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:23). The fullness of the risen Christ fills the church through the person of the Holy Spirit. By His power the living Christ reveals Himself daily in living active participating faith. As His people we are to continue the ministry as his body: preach the Gospel, call people to repentance of sins, baptize, and unite/edify believers in the family around of the Lord’s table. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) which is confirmed and made alive in the resurrection. You see, God has raised Jesus from the dead and through Christ’s death and resurrection, God raised up His church to witness to the Almighty power of God and to testify to the truth. When the church member is dead in his attendance and service He is testifying of a dead Christ.
 
As members of the church of the living Christ He expects us to imitate Him in the world every day and join together each week to celebrate His power and be strengthened by the truth that Jesus is alive. The question is: Will you fall back into the regular routine and come witness the show next time or will you remain faithful, daily and weekly gathering, celebrating, and proclaiming the eternal truth that the stone has been rolled away and Christ is alive? Stay faithful in your attendance and service show the world He is alive!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


This week think on the consequence of your sin.

It is impossible to imagine the pain, the grief, the sorrow Christ endured in dying such a public, agonizing death. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that it was “for the joy that was set before Him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (12:2).
 
Shame is a dreadful thing. Our Lord was stripped naked . . . Think of the embarrassment . . . before all the onlookers. He was then beaten like a common criminal and finally nailed to a cross. He endured the physical shame, the emotional shame, and what was worse, the spiritual shame as the Father turned away His face from all the vile sinfulness Jesus was bearing in His own body on the cross.
 
Jesus, the heaven-sent Messenger of God’s love, the only begotten Son of the Father, had to suffer not only the guilt but the shame of the sin of the entire world . . . murderers, molesters, racists, liar’s, and cheats. Bearing the sin of them all is one— the One Called Christ!
 
Around nine hundred years ago, a monk, Bernard of Clairvaux, may have described it best: O sacred Head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down. Now scornfully surrounded, with thorns, thine only crown. . . . How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn! How does thy appearance languish (suffer), which once was bright as morn!
 
This week spend some time at the foot of the cross, read the account of Jesus trial and crucifixion again. As you read think on your sin and think of the shame He bore that you might be seen or looked on as righteous. Stay for a while in His suffering presence, Jesus’ payment deserves our serious reflection.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


He Wept!

This Sunday is Palm Sunday and so as we get our minds set to celebrate this weekend let’s just fix our focus for a moment. We remember Palm Sunday was a day filled with crowds and shouts of “Hosanna blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, and a parade or lined road, along the Mount of Olives. But that was all a mockery or show and our Lord knew it. Within a few short days the same crowd would disappear, and their cheers would be turned into jeers by the end of the week.
 
Can you picture Jesus riding over palm branches on the back of a donkey to the loud praises of the people? He was the center of a.en/on. We picture him smiling and waving at the masses. But look closer. The Bible tells us that when He saw the city, He “wept over it.” Through His tears we can hear His words: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. (Luke 19:41-42)
 
They were looking for the wrong thing in life. Those Jerusalem crowds wanted a military leader to put down the Roman oppression. And when they realized they were not getting what they wanted, they still crowned Him a king, but with a crown of thorns.
 
Those two words we see are powerful and pointed “He Wept”. I believe Jesus still weeps but the reason why is most important. Does He weep because He is touched by your belief, trust, and service for His Kingship and kingdom or does he s/ll weep over you, troubled by your blinded eyes and lack of faith. Do you s/ll seek for something else other than what God desires to do in your life—-Have you Crowned Jesus Lord and king of your life or are you reserving that spot for other “gods”?
 
Let’s get our focus and our hearts right and come celebrate the true King this Sunday morning!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5

 
Last night at church we had a great time with a Christian evangelist/magician/ mentalist. If you weren’t here that may sound confusing or odd, so let me explain. We had a Christian man come to the church to use magic, comedy, and questions to trick the mind. He used these tricks to bring about moments where he could share truths about Christ And help us make right choices for our lives. Now I say this to let you know there is an enemy out there who uses circumstances and situations to trick our minds, however his desire is to get us to believe lies and make wrong choices with the intent of ruining our lives.
 
God has a word for us in this battle. Jesus said you should not only worship God with all your heart, but that you should worship him with your whole mind (Matt. 22:37). But how can you do that if your mind’s running all over the place? You have to gather your thoughts. You have to capture them and make them obedient to Christ. The Greek word for captive in this verse means “to take prisoner”.
 
Would you say your thoughts are under control or are they untamed? Is your mind used to glorify God with right thoughts or does it run free in the gutter of life? If you know God says forgive others, when someone wrongs you, does your mind tell you to comply with God or does it run with one hundred ways to pay them back?
 
No matter what king or imagination you were born with or how creative you might be that still gives you no free pass to let your mind be an amusement park for the devil. We are told to control our thoughts, and we can through the power of the Holy Spirit— but we need to be aggressive.
 
Learn the practice of taking your thoughts captive, drag them into the light of God’s Word, and only allow those thoughts that would glorify God to live—Be done with anything that is not of God!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16)

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal.5:16)
 
There is a difference between utter depravity and total depravity. I was never utterly depraved. To be utterly depraved is to be as morally corrupt as you can possibly be. Utterly depraved people are the ones who have little or no moral conscience.
 
Even after becoming a Christian, we discovered that the capacity to do a sinful thing always lurks just on the flip side of my new nature. Whether it is lust or pride or losing our temper, we have the capacity to commit any particular sin at any time. This is total depravity. Utter depravity is to continuously sin; total depravity is the ever present capacity to sin. Total depravity is not that we are as wicked as we could possibly be, but that we are capable of wickedness at any time.
 
A Christian’s good character is the character of Jesus breathed into each of us by the Holy Spirit. Once we stop allowing the Spirit to fill us with power, sin leaks in from our old nature. Accepting our total depravity (our capacity to sin) is essential to living a victorious Christian life. If we presume that when we become Christian we are now good, we have missed the point. Jesus Christ shed His blood to forgive our sin, not to remove our sin. We have a continuing sinful nature which requires us to guard our heart and mind. We must post a twenty-four-hour guard at the gate to our mind.
 
We are not essentially good in the temporal world. Until we are glorified with Christ in heaven, we have a dual nature. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, these two natures coexist in our minds. When we became Christians, we received a new spiritual nature, but we also kept our old sinful nature. Each day, even each moment, we make the choice to live by the Spirit or the sinful nature. (reread the verse above) Two natures beckon us to their way of living. By the Spirit, the disciple lives according to the new nature. And unless we continually walk in the Spirit, constantly appropriating His power, our spirit will shrivel up like a grape.
 
The key is to focus on the positive instead of the negative. “Live by the Spirit.” That is the positive, and then you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. God did not say, “Do not sin, and you will live by the Spirit.” He said, “Live by the Spirit and you will not sin.” This is a huge difference. The action point for the Christian is to focus on doing the right thing, not on avoiding the wrong thing. The former is living by grace; the latter is living by law.
 
Every Biblical Christian has the desire to be obedient. But how do we pull that off? Our effort must be Spirit-aided, not in our own strength. You cannot keep from sinning, but you can rely upon the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit in you. Have you focused on not sinning, or living by the Spirit? We are not utterly depraved, but we are totally depraved. No part of our character is without capacity to sin. Only the Spirit can strengthen us to overcome the desires of the sinful nature which constantly beckon.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Right now the devil and his demons are waging war against you. Job 1:7 reminds us that our enemy does not rest. “The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”” The battle is constant, that’s why Peter reminds us to “be sober-minded and watchful.” Satan not only waits to devour us but also tries to out smart us. (2 Corinthians 2:11 He constantly is scheming and plotting on how to deceive us.) The Bible therefore encourages us in 1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” We must understand the battle is to use situation or circumstance to exhaust our mind, defeat our heart and dominate our will.
 
The Battle is to Overwhelm and Wear You Down in Your Mind.
The devil’s biggest scheme against you is to exhaust your mind. Imagine all the ways in which the enemy tries to do that on a daily basis. Our mind is drained from work both in your career and home, from petty fights and vain arguments, !red from failures, weary from anxiety, overwhelmed with depression, distracted with temptations, and most of all absent or unfocused from God.
 
The Bible over and over again commands God’s people to “stand strong”, “fear not”, “stay alert”, and “guard your mind”! Yes, its a command, because your greatest battle is not in your surrounding, it’s in your head. James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Alert minds are those that are washed and refreshed in God’s Word daily, that believe God’s Word over the lie of the enemy and those that don’t let their circumstance determine their relationship with God.
 
Now is the Time to Fight.
If you are fed up, exhausted, tired, letting temptation get you, running away in fear, then probably the lion has got you on the run! So this message is God’s Word to your soul = rise up and fight back! You cannot wage war if you have given up in your mind or are always fighting the past. You must wake up. “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.” 1 Peter 4:7
 
Stop trying to make things happen on your own and instead lean on Him. Know who you are in Christ and the great purposes you have in Him, and stand in the truth and Pray! (Ephesians 6:14) “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
 
It’s time then, to worship like never before, to seek and knock like never before, to love Him like never before. Wage War like never before, don’t give in or quit— Fight!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes