Pastor’s Blog

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:2)

Did you know that the moon is spinning around us at nearly 2,300 miles an hour. Our Earth is spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles an hour. Our sun is one of 200 billion other stars and trillions more planets are in our galaxy. The universe is astonishingly grand. Whenever I read anything like these facts I am overwhelmed and generally mind blown. I truly have a hard time wrapping my head around these facts.
However, the next thing that comes to my mind is the truth that in the midst of all of this astounding universe and this vastness is our little Earth, which is no bigger than a pebble in comparison, and even more our individual lives, no greater than a grain of sand on the shores of the universe. Yet according to Scripture, the God of the galaxies pays attention to each microscopic one of us in intimate detail. He saw us before we existed (Psalm 139:13–16); He watches us as we go about our days and listens for our every thought (vs. 1–6).
When King David wrote Psalm 139, he was amid a crisis (vs. 19–20). And when Jesus said God counts each hair on our heads (Matthew 10:30), He knew that we were still far off in sin. Biblical talk of God’s caring attention isn’t a childish wish. It is truth. The One who keeps the galaxies spinning knows us intimately. The one who oversees the universe sees every detail of our lives. The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by the circumstances of this life, remember these truths, know that the God who controls it all is fully aware of your needs and more than capable to handle anything we may have to face. Today take a moment to read Psalm 139:1- 18 and just take time to praise Him for all it reveals about us and Him. This might be all it takes to help us get through the worst of times.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn.1:9)

Many of us in this area have heard of the NFL quarterback Chad Pennington, who played his college ball at Marshall University when they had a lot of successful years in the 1990’s. Chad had a successful but rough NFL career plagued with some severe injuries. Some were even the career-threatening type of injuries. Twice his injuries forced him to endure surgery, therapy, and extensive training to get back onto the field. Each time he not
only returned to playing but he so excelled that twice he was named Comeback Player of the Year. His returns were an expression of his determined spirit, strong faith, discipline and help from the medical world.
As a fellow Christian with Pennington, I believe we see set backs differently than many in the world. Through our faith we see problems as an opportunity to persevere and grow. Spiritual set backs can also present us with our greatest opportunities to be a witness or example to others, that is if we respond wisely and trust in the right help.
God knew in our spiritual life/career we would face seasons of sin and spiritual failure creating hardship in our relationship with and service to God. It is in those times when self determination alone cannot restore us to health and usefulness. God Himself created for us the path to a comeback through confession. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). For us to be able to recover from our spiritual failings and injuries, we must learn to confess and depend on the One who gave himself for us. He gives us hope in the midst of setback. Christ, who died for us, loves us and will respond with grace as we confess our faults to Him. Through His power to heal, we too can find gracious restoration. Maybe today you find yourself in a struggle with sin or in a season of battling spiritual difficulties, be sure to confess your sin struggle and rely on the great physician for healing, God desires and designed it so we can all make great comebacks.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor (Ps. 8:4-5)

We must be careful as a country; we are treading on scary ground. The political philosophy of today is beginning to fall in line with Marxist communist beliefs. By that I mean that we are beginning to take the same outlook on individual life as those failed countries took. Communism stresses the importance of the political party over the person. With Hitler it was clear “societies needs come before the individual’s needs.” In Stalin’s USSR of the early 1900’s, peasant farmers were forced, for the benefit of the state, to give up rights to land and animals in order to become a part of collective farms. The result was the starvation and death to many innocent people.
Look at the contrast of a biblical worldview where people matter most because they matter to God. Christianity sees man as an image barer. We therefore have intrinsic value beyond any creature on earth and that value is not based on abilities or perceived worth. This is why Jesus tells us the greatest command is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:37-40) He not only tells us to love our neighbor but also to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:43-45)
Let us not be mistaken it was out of this biblically informed mindset that our forefathers penned these words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Please pray for our country and our leaders, that they may be influenced by the biblical worldview that drives man to protect the unborn, fight for the rights of the oppressed, and works to feed, clothe, and empower, not prey on, those in poverty. For these are the visible markers of Jesus teaching “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” On a personal level know that you matter to God and so does everyone else. The question is: Who might God want you to protect, provide for, or minister to with acts of love and kindness today?
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13

Blaise Pascal once said, “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we can never know it.” How much more so is this statement true today?
We must search after God with passion and tenacity. If you already know him, hear the lesson of (Ps. 42:1-2) “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Are you truly thirsting for the living God? This being the question for the saved then what about the unsaved? The search for truth is perplexing in a world with so many spiritual/life options. How can they ever sort out what to believe?
Jesus has an answer for us in (Luke 11:9) “if you ask, you will receive; if you seek, you will find, and if you knock the door will be opened to you.” Never does He say it will be easy or that truth would be right out in the open or served up to you. Just the opposite, the answer to their spiritual search will come if they persistently look for it. This is why God tells us through the prophet Jeremiah “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”
This statement counters our tendency to be complacent. There is no question, it is much easier to put off thinking about deep or weighty spiritual matters, to passively accept common thoughts and practices or to just submit to the teachings of authorities who would like to share their beliefs with you. However, if we want to know and live by the truth we must come to the point when we must mature and make certain we have embraced the right beliefs.
If you will really desire truth and set your heart to seek it, you will be led to Jesus. Then the good news is, you will find that He came to seek and to save you (Luke 19:10) Upon being found you will embrace His teaching and “then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn.8:32). As you are freed you will experience the truth of what (Heb. 11:60) tells us “God rewards those who earnestly seek him”
If you are saved seek Him today and grow in the truth, if you are lost and searching learn to ask, seek, and knock. May God bless you in your earnest endeavor for the truth!
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10)

Have you ever really thought about objects and their purpose? Do it! Look at the objects all around you in the room, they were all created with a purpose. A lamp…give light, a chair…allow someone to sit, a pencil… to write,
etc. I don’t know where you are reading this devotional but take a second and share the purpose of the things around you. Now go stand in front of a mirror and think the same way– what is your purpose.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains how we are saved by grace through faith and in verse 10 we are told we were created as God’s workmanship to do good works. Paul is writing from a prison cell in Rome to the church in Ephesus. Here Paul is talking about the amazing grace God offered to mankind through his Son, Jesus. Paul talks of the sense of ownership God has over us. In these verses we learn the nature of our relationship to God, and the purpose for which He designed us.
God looks at you as His treasured creation. You are His workmanship. This means to the world you are evidence of His great compassion, His power and His glory. And you were created by Him for specific purpose. Personally,
to enjoy relationship with Him and exalt Him with your life. Corporately, to complete good works along with Jesus. Your purpose is to live out His teachings and witness to others about His glory.
Just like all the items in the room and all created things you were meant for purpose. So, praise God for His grace, love, and desire to be a working part of His plan. —Go do what you were created to do!
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs. —ROMANS 15:8

Evan Bahy was elected as Governor of Indiana at the age of thirty-four, making him the nation’s youngest governor. When the Democratic National Committee met in Indianapolis in 1989, He held a reception at his residence. He greeted each guest at the door with the words “Welcome to Indiana.” The arriving dignitaries, who thought he was a young staff member, gave him their coats and walked on into the reception. Bahy didn’t take offense. However, he did take their coats, to the nearest closet, and hang them up.
Not long ago, I was asked, by a friend in the church, to watch a series about the life and ministry of Christ called “The Chosen”. While watching the series I believe this aspect of Jesus’ life, his humble human involvement and service, has been the area that stands out the most to me.
Though Jesus was truly King of the Jews, He became our proverbial “coat taker”, living out His own words in Luke 22: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (vv. 25–26). Jesus served His people by living among them, healing their sick, soothing their hurts, raising their dead, feeding their poor, forgiving their sins. He didn’t demand honor, though He didn’t refuse it. He didn’t require much, though He gave much. He was slain like a disgraced slave, yet over His head a sign announced: “King of the Jews.”
No matter what position we gain in this life, we’re to consider ourselves slaves and to act as servants. What are the chances you’ll encounter a small need you can meet in someone else’s life today? Perhaps your spouse needs something as simple as a hug or a kind word of appreciation. Perhaps your child or grandchild needs a note or phone call of encouragement. Perhaps a soul ‘in need’ needs a random act of kindness.
Speaking personally, this is what I must become better at doing in my own life and ministry. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving” (Rom. 12:10–11). Maybe you also need to repent in this area and you need to ask God to help you be a better servant to those around you. Let us learn to serve like Christ.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Jesus = The Sin Offering

Let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. —Leviticus 4:3
When we say or do something damaging to others, it brings guilt and shame upon us, reducing our self-esteem and sense of worth. Even worse, sin, when it is finished, brings death. To live without forgiveness is miserable indeed.
In Leviticus 4, the Lord provided an answer to sin’s ravages. He instructed any Israelite who sinned to bring an innocent animal to the tabernacle altar as a sacrifice. The sinner laid his hand on the head of the animal, then slaughtered it. This was called the sin offering, and it conveyed the idea of transference. God created a method of dealing with sin that allowed the sinner to transfer his guilt onto the head of an innocent victim who would then die in his or her stead.
We now know that the blood of the animal had no power in itself. It was symbolic, pointing to Christ. Isaiah 53 says: Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows…. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (vv. 4–6) Christ Himself bore the penalty for our sins on the cross, that we might be abundantly pardoned—just as though we had never sinned at all.
Think of the thing about which you feel worst. If you could go back and change it, you would, but that’s impossible. What, then, can you do with your guilt and shame? You can push it down deeper into your own heart where it will eventually poison your personality. You can push it onto others, blaming them for your problems. Or you can push your sins onto Christ, who bears our transgressions.
Christ has for sin atonement made
What a wonderful Savior!
We are redeemed, the price is paid
What a wonderful Savior! —Elisha A. Hoffman, 1891
Be thankful today, for your sin offering (Jesus) who removed your shame and placed you in the way of God blessing.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

He will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelations 21:4)

Might we find ourselves shedding tears of regret when we think back upon how we squandered our lives despite the opportunities God gave us. After all, even as believers we will give an account “for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
Just imagine: We will all stand individually in the presence of Jesus, who will thoroughly evaluate our lives to determine the rewards we will receive. We’re not suggesting we will see our sins, since they have been forgiven by Christ and therefore will not be held against us. Nevertheless, our lives will be thoroughly reviewed. What if God were to take all we have done (and not done) and turned these deeds and attitudes into either gold, silver, and precious stones, or into wood, hay, and stubble? Then when He puts a torch to the heap, the fire will “test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13). In this way, our lives could be tested even without us seeing our sin. We won’t be judged for what we did prior to our conversion; in other words, we will not be judged for what we did since our “first birth,” but what we have done since our “second birth.” The apostle Paul evidently expected to do well at the judgment seat, even though he was a violent criminal before his conversion, throwing Christians into prison and supporting those who killed them. At the end of his life, Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Think about the implications of this coming judgment.
1. Every day is either a loss or a gain (or a mixture of both) as far as our future judgment is concerned. The great evangelist George Whitefield requested that these words be carved onto his gravestone: “I am content to wait till the day of judgment for the clearing up of my character. And after I am dead I desire no other epitaph than this, ‘Here lies G.W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.’” The anger of Whitefield’s critics and the praise of his friends will not count; only what Jesus says and thinks will really matter. At issue will not be the size of our ministries or even the extent of our influence, but rather whether we lived wholeheartedly for God.
2. If we are faithful, our reward will be to rule with Christ in the coming kingdom. Although it might well be that all Christians get to reign with Christ, the Bible makes such a privilege conditional: “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12). And it is clear that those who are most faithful will be given more responsibilities in the life to come (Luke 19:11-27). Be assured that how you live on earth as a Christian has eternal implications.
Our most pressing responsibility is to live passionately for Jesus Christ so that we will not be ashamed at His coming. Jesus is generous, and He is committed to rewarding us beyond our imagination. Live to Him with each day and let us shed less a tear for our missed opportunities.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose

In the devotional book Voices of the Faithful, a missionary couple in South America tells of a local pastor in Uberaba who bought a van to transport people to church. To help make payments on the van, he removed the backseats and did delivery work through the week. But the van needed four new tires, and the pastor had no way of paying for them.
One night the van was stolen from the church property. Some of the church members tried to console their pastor by saying that perhaps it wasn’t God’s will for him to have the van. But he knew he needed the vehicle for God’s work, so he trusted the Lord to work it all for good.
A few days later police officers from a nearby town called on him, saying the van had been located and the thief caught. Arriving at the police station, the pastor was surprised to find his vehicle sporting a new set of tires, new backseats, and a radio! He claimed the van but told the police that the tires, seats, and radio were not his. They must have been installed by the thief. “Well, I guess that is the thief’s loss and your gain,” replied the police officer. The pastor now has a good van, fully equipped and ready for ministry.
Many would say this was a bit of good luck or a pleasant coincidence? Winston Churchill once observed, “You never can tell how bad luck may after all turn out to be good luck.” But there’s no such thing as luck for the child of God, and Christians shouldn’t hope for good luck or bemoan when things go bad. Luck is a worthless word to the believer.
What we need is providence: God the Father, through the grace of God the Son and in answer to the prayers of God the Spirit, working all things for the good of those who love Him, in the process using the circumstances of life as arena in which to conform us to the image of Christ.
If things aren’t so great for you today, hang in there and trust God’s character/ promises. He just might be using those circumstances to create a blessing in you or around you that you just cannot yet see. God works for good to those who love Him.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

Winning the spiritual war!

Our opponent needs only one blind spot, just one entry point, to prevent us from reaching our fullest potential and experiencing victory in our day-to-day lives. Satan just needs one area where we are still trying to gratify our flesh and live according to our feelings to keep us from experiencing God’s best. Most of us never even come close to fulfilling God’s purpose or experiencing God’s peace, because we won’t remain pure long enough for God to reveal it to us!
It only takes a little sin to steal a lot of purpose! Romans 8:13 warns us against providing that single foothold for the enemy saying, “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live!” Our flesh, if left untamed, will destroy our lives and our witness. Or we can “put to death the misdeeds of the body,” and experience life as it was intended to be.
The ultimate goal, as Christians, is excellence and righteousness that we may bring great glory to God with our life. So whatever that one habit or stronghold is that we’ve let fester – that is what is holding us back from being used to our fullest potential. Once we surrender it to Jesus – that is what will ultimately unlock the abundance and peace that we’re all looking for. So let’s stand on Psalm 5:12 knowing that the Lord “blesses the righteous and surrounds them with His favor as with a shield!” Let’s pursue complete righteousness and receive that shield of favor. It’s time to go to war and confront the enemy! Ask the Lord to examine your heart and life then reveal
any area that the devil may be using to hinder your potential to bring Him glory. Be sure to place that area back under the Lord’s care, surrender it to Him and claim His resurrection power over that area.
We must do everything we can to live free of sin and live up to our
potential “to the Glory of God”.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes