All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

There is a question many have asked over the years: Is greatness born or made? Despite the myth of mystical innate genius, researchers have found that it’s actually made through hustle and hard work: by harnessing the supreme power of hard work and diligence.
 
We can’t control the circumstances into which we are born. But there are two things over which every man has complete sovereignty: the use of his time and his effort given. Every man, rich or poor, has twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week to labor as much as he wants.
 
Effort and time: these are the great equalizers among men. And how they are used is what separates the mediocre from the extraordinary. The world and the Bible’s greatest men understood this principle; they recognize time as a gift from God not to be wasted, they understand time on this planet is limited, so they put it to work. They understood that glory and honor for God and man go to those who put to use the gifts and redeeming the time wisely and effectively, and so they got to work.
 
Man does not have any innate special powers. No, the secret of success in our Christian walk and our world is making the most of every minute of every single day. Having aim, purpose, and drive. We must accept every opportunity to grow and produce. It is good to know as we wake up early and attack the day’s work with heart and determination that we have been partnered with the power of the Holy Spirit. God is the difference and he makes up the difference in the areas we struggle. But it is our job to work.
 
What will you be able to look back on when your life has been lived? Will it be a life filled with achievement and ministry or an unaccounted for wasteland of life that somehow slipped through your fingers? Better get to work.
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


The Importance of a Guarded Mind!

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)
 
I am amazed at the amount of adults who stop following Christ. I’m not talking about people who tried Christianity for a few weeks or months but those who walked with Him for years. I’m speaking of committed, spiritual people who, after they’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good for a decade or more, slowly drifted away. You may be thinking that can’t happen, can it?
 
Look up a guy named Demus in your Bible! Solomon also fit that description. He trusted God to be his strength, his wisdom, and his refuge. He enjoyed the fruit of God’s blessings like no one in history. But he forgot to fear God. He forgot to remain obedient. He forgot to guard his mind.
 
Solomon’s worldview drifted from the rock-solid absolutes of scripture to the world of feelings, the worldview of the pagans around him. He forgot to guard his heart. From the wisest man to ever walk the face of the earth to the most disillusioned, Solomon became one of history’s most pathetic characters.
 
I wonder how many of the dead who strayed and paid would love to call back from death and plead with us to live differently. God afforded Solomon such an opportunity through His recorded word as one who walked with, as well as strayed from, God. He is the author of many proverbs, now his voice reverberates down through the ages with lessons from his own indiscretions, ones that left him in mental and moral pain. He says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
 
Solomon knew that the place the enemy would attack would be the heart (mind). The devil plots to conform your mind to the pattern of this world. “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Col. 2:8). Solomon knew his own mind had been left unguarded. He lived in the ashes of a ruined life. He warns us from the grave. Have you been guarding your heart? Or do you live by your feelings? Pity the people who leave their minds unguarded, for many of them will stop following Christ.
 
If you have left your heart unguarded, quickly post a watchmen at the gate to your mind. Hear the words of the one who knows “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


Significance

What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors
under the sun? (Eccl 2:22)
 
The slow pace of this virus time has made me re-evaluate my schedule. At times even though I was “doing less” I have felt that what I was doing was more significant. At other times because I was not “busy” I felt like I was being unproductive or insignificant and I would find myself anxious to be more “productive”.
 
The longing we each have to feel significant is hard to understand but is a very real need. When we are busy, we feel this need is being met. Often, however, we become busy but don’t actually do anything very significant. We can become busy and feel good about ourselves, but our busyness may not contribute very much to forever. The trap of busyness is that we tend to equate the value of our work with the amount of our work. In truth, busyness does not lead to significance, but to self-importance. Many times busy people become puffed up with themselves.
 
The kind of work which God approves of is born in Christ and is not puffed up in self-importance. It does not seek to be busy to feel important, it seeks to find significance for the glory of God. The real significant work is the kind preassigned by the Father. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). I hope through all this I am learning to patiently wait for God to reveal His important work. This kind of watch leads me to a more measured sort of work, a considered, controlled form of busyness that leads to a mindset of true significance.
 
Busyness is a curse of the devil. So what do busy people receive for all their toil and striving? “All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest” (Eccl. 2:23). When I get back to busy I plan to stop and ask myself: “Does this busyness flow from the work God has revealed to me? Or am I merely searching impatiently for significance?” I have learned the person who slows down to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit will labor in significance. The world may never recognize the importance of his good works, but the Spirit will testify with his spirit that it is the work God prepared in advance for him to do. And in the end I would rather have what God gives “To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness” (Eccl. 2:26).
 
In His Service,
Eric Barnes


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