Deliverance

But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor evil occurrence. (1 Kings 5:4)
 
Yesterday Mayor Cuomo of New York said “we have done better at handling this virus, it was not God that did it, we did this!”. Now He may be trying to encourage the people to keep doing what they have been doing, however to say none of this had to do with God’s grace or mercy, this is a very scary statement to me. So today I want to point you to the delivering power of God and encourage you to place your trust in Him as you make decisions during this ‘me. The truth is as believers we should claim the promise of God’s peace in this ‘me. You have a right to do so The Book of Judges (translated as “deliverers”) shows us God’s mercy in delivering Israel from her enemies. The result was that the land had rest.
 
-And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. (Judges 3:9–11)
-So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years. (Judges 3:30) – “Thus let all Your enemies perish, O LORD! But let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” So the land had rest forty years. (Judges 5:31)
 
Deliverance is designed to bring you into rest. Rest is peace (shalom) and prosperity. Peace is an all-inclusive word that encompasses prosperity, safety, health, protection, fruitfulness, and abundance. Peace and rest is not only for heaven but also for the here and now on the earth. It is not something coming one day. That doesn’t mean trouble will not come. You do not have to live a life of worry and anxiety. Peace is yours. Prosperity is yours. Even when trouble comes, it should not take away your peace. Peace is what you have as a saint of God. You will have the blessing of God. It’s the guarantee of His covenant of peace. It belongs to the saints of God. So no maer how bad the news gets, don’t let the devil take your peace and your shalom away from you.
 
You need to be made aware of who you are in Christ, the authority He has given you, and the arsenal of weapons He has equipped you with to fight and win back your peace. Peace is your right as a child of God. Call on Him to grant you and your land rest—then deny Him the praise when you are delivered
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Do You Believe This?

After Easter, hearing about the resurrection, I think one of the most important things we can do is go back to the personal question Jesus asked at the tomb of Lazarus. He said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me . . . shall never die,” He turned to His hearers and asked, “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26). This is Easter’s bottom-line question: Do you believe this?
 
O.S. Hawkins in His booklet the Easter Code does a great job of explaining this question and the way it may have been asked:
“Do you believe this?” When it comes to saving faith in the finished work of Christ, what matters is not what anyone else believes. It is intensely personal.
“Do you believe this?” He is not interested in whether you give intellectual assent to His claims. Jesus wants to know if you put your total trust and faith in what He says. The real issue is one of faith. It is pointed.
“Do you believe this?” The question follows on the heels of an amazing claim: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25–26). Do you believe this claim about His deity? The fundamental belief of the Christian faith is that Jesus of Nazareth is God Himself, “the image of the invisible God . . . All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:15–16). Do you believe His claim 16 about your destiny? “Though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). Yo “Though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25). Your body will one day die, but not your spirit, you will receive a new imperishable body.
 
There are a lot of big questions that come our way in life. But there is only one question that will matter in death: “Do you believe this?” You can settle this question once and for all by your response today. If this is the desire of your heart then pray, confess your sin to the Lord, accept His finished work as the payment for your sin debt and surrender your life to Jesus as King over your life. A simple prayer can never save you, but Jesus can, and will, if your prayer expresses the true desire of your heart. Today you can claim the promise Jesus made to all who would follow Him: “Most assuredly . . . he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). This is God’s desire for you and that is why He made it available to you through His Son Jesus. But the question is “Do You believe this?”
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3)
 
Anyone who owns their own property or vehicle is a very blessed and rich person. However, with that comes a lot of maintenance and upkeep. I don’t know if you’ve ventured into a place like Lowe’s lately but it seems like everyone is doing some sprucing up around the house right now. To take care of problems today saves us from greater problems down the road. Look at our cars for example; we periodically take them in for an inspection even when they are running smoothly. We call it “preventive maintenance.” Truth is most of what goes wrong with our house or car does so because of one word—neglect. Neglect has adverse effects on physical things, but it is much more dangerous in the spiritual realm.
 
The writer of Hebrews asks a probing question—“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (2:3). As we come to neglect so great a salvation?” (2:3 the start of Holy Week, let’s consider the three responses people give to the gospel. Some accept it. Some reject it. But most simply neglect it. Please don’t be that person.
 
Perhaps you, or someone you know, is among that vast group of people in the world who simply neglect Christ’s continual call, deceived into thinking there will always be adequate time to name Jesus as Lord and Savior.
 
The reality is, you must either accept Him or reject Him, for ‘not to decide is to decide’. Please realize as you go through each day, you are faced with one choice after another . . . where to eat lunch, what to order, what paint color for the house, etc… Let each of these simple decisions be a reminder that the greatest choice we can ever make is accepting or rejecting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. To neglect this decision leads to disaster.
 
If you have not chosen then what are you waiting for? This week or better yet today consider the cross and resurrection of Christ along with the word of God to the Israelites of old. I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:19
 
Have a blessed Easter— Love You!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Persevering Faith!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5)
 
Yesterday, President Trump extended the time of our mandatory quarantine from April 12th to April 30th. This means we must not only face our suffering with faith but with ongoing faith, long faith or something the Bible calls perseverance. I know this time is trying but this is a great opportunity to grow, so be encouraged.
 
The Greek word for suffering is translated as tribulation, something that causes distress. It can range from minor annoyances that we go through every day, to major disasters that come sweeping down out of the blue and leave us stricken and smitten.
 
According to Romans 5, the Christian response to suffering is to rejoice. Do you mean to say that God is telling me that when I am hurting and in pain, I am expected to be glad and rejoice in that? How do you get to the place where you can rejoice in suffering? We rejoice because we know something. It is something our faith enables us to know, a kind of inside information that others do not share. We know that suffering produces and accomplishes something. It is productive. Suffering produces something worthwhile. The apostle says there are three things that suffering produces:
 
First, suffering produces perseverance. The Greek word literally means to abide under, to stay under the pressure. Pressure is something we want to get out from under, but suffering teaches us to stay under, to stick in there and hang with steadiness.
 
Second, steadiness produces character. The Greek word for character carries with it the idea of being put to the test and approved. It is the idea of being shown to be a more reliable person. Someone strong to be counted on.
 
Third, we find that reliability produces hope. The hope is that we will share the glory of God’s character. The hope that God is producing the image of Christ in us. This hope is a certainty, not just a possibility. We are being changed and becoming more like Jesus.
 
Even now look at the world around you we are more thoughtful, compassionate, loving, mellowed and thankful. We are becoming more like Christ — stronger, wiser, purer, more patient. He is transforming us into the image of his Son, so hang in there!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Rejoice in the Lord always!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Phil. 4:4)
 
Yesterday in the sermon I spoke about God’s great desire for us to have peace and joy throughout this life. The question is “Do you live in God’s grace in such a way that you have true joy and peace– at all times?”. I guess another great question is “Are you one person when life is going smoothly, and another person when life is not?”.
 
We can all fall into this category at times but our circumstances do not have to determine our level of joy. This is because circumstances are subject to change, and God is not. And because God never changes, there is no reason to worry over issues that will change again and again.
 
As Paul wrote the above line, in a letter to the church at Philippi, he was in prison. Not necessarily a joyful circumstance, but this did not change his joy or his rejoicing—and it didn’t keep him from encouraging others from doing the same. So as we all find ourselves in changing circumstances from day to day remember that each day is a time to focus on God and “rejoice, again I say, rejoice.” Although the situations may change our God never does– anchor down in faith and focus on God today. Be a carrier of God’s infections joy, the world really needs that today.
 
Remember: We will not be having any services or studies in the church this week but we will be placing videos on (fbcironton.org) daily! Please pray for each other and read your Bible everyday.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Prayer is Paramount

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. (Romans 10:1)
 
Paul was a Jew who knew the difference between Judaism and Christianity. As a saved believer his greatest desire and his ask from God was for his Israelite brothers and sisters to be saved. What is your ask? When was the last time you begged God for something? My hunch is it was probably something like please let me get this job, please let the loan go through, or please just let this surgery go well. All these are important things to pray about, however when was the last time you begged God for another person’s soul.
 
I shared with the youth at Bible study Sunday night about the importance of prayer in ministry and I shared a quote from Samuel Chadwick “One concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, and prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” The reason it makes Satan tremble is because prayer calls the power of God into the fight. So the question needs to be are you calling God into the fight for another person’s salvation? We pray for needs, surgeries, job opportunities, to pass tests, heal sickness—- but are we consistently praying for a specific person to be saved?
 
Every day as believers, who can tap into the mighty power of God, we should be praying consistently and specifically for the salvation of another soul. To stay in consistent prayer creates consistent opportunities for salvation to be shared which makes us more alert or aware to seize those opportunities. So as we pray for others also let God know you are available to be used in the salvation of others (it is not about your ability, but your availability. Who is it that God is laying on your heart that you are laying at his feet in prayer?
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


People are watching…

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them.
(Phil 2:14-15)
 
Even when you don’t realize it or even if you don’t want it, people watch you. They can tell who you are by how you act. If you have chosen to publicly follow Christ, people will judge who He is by how you act. You and I are a reflection of our Father. This is what Paul is addressing He wants us to be pure reflections of God’s character. This is why we are called to live clean, innocent lives so that when others look at us, they have a clear, unclouded picture of who God is.
 
However, isn’t it interesting, the behavior that Paul focuses on here is not what we would think of as serious sin but simply complaining and arguing. He could have chosen any number of other bad, wild, sinful behaviors, but he chose complaining and arguing. Complaining and arguing aren’t even that bad. But maybe that’s his point. We don’t see them as such destructive behaviors and we even indulge ourselves in them all the time. We whine about work. We grumble our restaurant food. We find fault with our cable company, the phone plan, our church or pastor. But we fail to comprehend that when we complain, when we argue, we mess up the reflection of God’s character in us. We give Christ a bad name by misrepresenting His character.
 
Paul wants us to be blameless so that no one can reject Christ because they saw a poor picture of Him in our lives. Our lives are meant to shine like lights in a dark and perverse world. That is not just by staying away from what the world sees as perverse sin, but in our daily attitudes, our demeanor, and our daily interactions with others. We need to remember to give Him full access to our hearts, hands, emotions, lips, and attitudes. We must allow Him to live His life through us since He is the one we are representing in this life.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Need or Want

While [Jesus] was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man,
“My child, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:2-5
 
Did you see that? Jesus didn’t immediately reaching out and heal the paralyzed man, instead He said, “Your sins are forgiven”. Jesus healed the need, which was not what the man’s friends had wanted. Obviously Jesus saw his physical need, the need for which his friends brought him to Jesus? Jesus recognized that the man was paralyzed. But He also saw the man’s deeper need: to have his sins forgiven.
 
This is the truth of all of us, we have issues or “needs” to be addressed. We tell ourselves, “What I need is (_______) then my life would be great.” We believe those areas we want fixed will make things right. In a sense these wants become our “gods.” We pray and ask Him to give us what we want, not what we really need. The truth is we don’t always know our greatest need.
 
The great thing about Jesus is, He loves us so much that He will not simply give us what we want. He knows that many of the things we want will not satisfy. They might even be harmful to us.
 
So in His great wisdom and love, He gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. He gives us relational restoration with the only one who satisfies our every need and who forgives our shortfalls. A couple of verses later (Mark 2:10-11) we see that Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’ You see the one who meets our needs also has the ability and desire to fulfill our healthy wants!
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


“How many loaves do you have?”

“How many loaves do you have?” He asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five loaves—and two fish.” (Mark 6:38)
 
When Jesus said to His disciples, “You feed them,” they responded like most of us, “With what?” Jesus responded calmly to His disciples’ doubt. He asked them one simple question: “What do you have?” Then He went on to show them (and us) that we have forgotten two very critical things—1) our own resources or gifts and 2) the power of God.
 
We all have spiritual gifts it is clearly stated in 1 Cor. 12:4-11. There are at least five loaves and two fish in every church! Some of us are gifted to understand and teach the Bible. Others are natural leaders able to attract others to church or Bible study. The bottom line is, when we place what we have—even if it feels as if it is nothing—into Jesus’ hands, He blesses it and makes it more than adequate for the task He calls us to do.
 
We must also remember that “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). This is our most overlooked resource. We lean on ourselves and forget who is working through us. We leave the power of the living God on the sidelines. We must accept and embrace our calling to use whatever resources we have to feed the hungry sheep in our communities.
 
There is a population starving for the Word of salvation, though they may not realize it, yet! We may never be in a time or place in life where we can have such a tremendous impact for God. Let’s commit to offer everything we have to Jesus, relying on His power, and see what happens. What do you have to offer? Take inventory of your gifts. Bring them to Jesus. Follow the words of the wonderful old hymn “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee.” He will do great things.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Mad for Jesus!

One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. (Mark 3:20-21)
 
Most people in this world are a little crazy. But most of the time we are not really believed to be crazy. However, Jesus’ family had great cause to think that He really was out of His mind. His claims about Himself were unbelievable. He called Himself the “Son of Man.” He claimed to forgive sins and to be the fulfillment of the Scriptures (see Matthew 26:63-64; Mark 2:10-11).
 
If our friends declared they were God, we would have a right to believe they were crazy. His claims about Himself eliminate the option that He is a good teacher or a great prophet. He is either nuts, or He is who He claims to be: the Son of God.
 
The real question we must answer is, have we ever had anyone believe or call us “mad” or “crazy” because of Jesus? Are we living so radically for Christ that we get called “insane” or “out of our minds” as Paul did in Acts 26:24? As we live our faith, our personal beliefs and our choices do we reveal a mindset that is radically different from that of the general society? Does our love for God extend to the castoffs in life? Are we insane enough to use our time and gifts taking the Gospel as Jesus did to the lepers, Samaritans, tax collectors, and prostitutes? Let us live in such a way that if the world will call us mad or crazy let it be about Jesus, for Jesus, and because of Jesus. Let God be your sanity and your madness— live only in Him and for Him.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes