From the Pastor
Pastor Mike Burns
903.567.2072 (Ext. 3002)
Six Inner Conflicts in Every Human Heart
1) I’m a “good person” do I really need salvation?
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)
“No one is righteous—not even one." (Romans 3:10)
2) I’m not a really "bad person," is my sin really that bad?
"The wages of sin is death" [spiritual separation from God] (Romans 6:23).
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12)
3) I’m too bad to be saved, how can there be any hope for me?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Romans 6:23)
But God showed (demonstrated) his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8)
"Christ died for our sins... He was buried... He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures... He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-6).
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me'" (John 14:6).
4) How can I be saved?
…If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. (Romans 10:10)
5) Did God accept me?
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1)
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
6) What should I do now?
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17)
"God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!
Published on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 @ 4:47 PM CDT
What is the treasure Paul describes in this verse? From the previous verse, we know that it is the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). Paul described God as shining His light into Paul's heart, penetrating the darkness of Paul's unbelief and revealing His glory to Paul through faith in Christ. Paul finally saw with spiritual eyes what he had never seen in all of his years of religious practice. In fact, Paul's phrasing in the prior verse incorporates the values of many different cultures—light, knowledge, and glory—and expresses them in the form of a person which is Jesus Christ.
To know God in this way, to see God's glory and to be given the opportunity to share in that glory forever, is the greatest of all treasures. Paul writes now that this great treasure is not kept under lock and key in a museum or a bank vault. Instead, God keeps this treasure of the light of His glory in Christ in fragile jars of clay. Clay jars were included in nearly every aspect of life in Paul's day. They were efficient containers, but also prone to breaking easily. Modern people tend to think of glass jars as "fragile," but glass was considered an improvement over clay.
The point being made is that God has deliberately chosen something fragile and unimpressive. Why would God keep this great treasure in such vulnerable containers? Paul says God wants to show that the power of His glory is from Him. He leaves no room to suggest that power comes from Paul or any other human being. The power of the gospel is so overwhelming that it is not limited by the quality of its container. God displays His limitless power and glory by distributing it through limited and common human vessels.
This follows Paul's point in verse 5 that he has not come to proclaim himself as something special. He has come to proclaim Christ as Lord, with himself merely a servant to the Corinthians for Christ's sake.
Second Corinthians 4:7–18 explains that the priceless treasure of knowing God's glory through faith in Christ is kept in the fragile containers of human beings. In this case, this refers to Paul and his co-workers who preach the gospel. Their suffering is enormous, but God keeps them from being wiped out. They don't quit because even after they die, they know they will be resurrected, as Christ was. Then they will spend eternity with Him in a glory that will far outweigh and outlast the comparatively lightweight and momentary suffering of this life.
Published on Friday, March 27, 2020 @ 1:18 PM CDT
Parents have much more influence on children than many of us realize. Our salvation and our continuing relationship with Christ not only affect us, but our children as well. Even if there is only one believing spouse in the family, as that spouse allows Christ to live His life through them, the children receive the benefit of hearing and seeing Christianity being “lived out” before them. There is tremendous power and influence in the life of the believer. (I Cor. 7:12-14)
Our children are going to be influenced in either an unclean or a holy manner by us. Our surrender to Christ or our rejection of Him determines which influence we give our children.
What specific things can parents do to influence their children spiritually?
- Surrender our lives to Jesus. (A parent can’t give what they themselves don’t have.)
- Learn our identity in Christ. (Learn how to allow Christ to live in and through us. This is our life-style, NOT just our Sunday duty!)
- Teach our children to know, respect, and follow God’s word. Deut. 6:6-8; Eph. 6:1-3
- Teach by example. Eph. 6:4; Col 3:21; 1Thess. 2:11-12 (Training your children is to be accomplished through the parents or family members as a consistent lifestyle, rather than solely as a weekly classroom lesson at church. The church complements and supplements the parent. The parent does the training, not the church.)
- Pray for your children. (Pray for their salvation, spiritual growth, and their life in general.)
- Participate in a "Life-Giving" Church. (The church can complement and supplement the parent’s spiritual influence in the home.)
- Constantly affirm and communicate our love & appreciation to them verbally and physically. (They need to experience our love, not just hear about it.)
- Work for a loving and holy marriage. (Dad demonstrates love and caring for mom and mom lives out love and respect for dad.)
- Single parents, all of the above applies to you, and we encourage you to not live in the past or live with condemnation or bitterness. (If you don’t live with your children, then become as active as possible in their lives.)
Published on Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 1:50 PM CDT
Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.
Part of it may be that we live in a society in which food is so pervasive that we eat not only when we don’t need to, but sometimes even when we don’t want to. We eat to share a meal with others, to build or grow relationships (good reasons), or just as a distraction from responsibility.
And of course, there are our own cravings and aches for comfort that keep us from the discomfort of fasting.
Not So Fast
Fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose. It is markedly counter-cultural in our consumerist society, like abstaining from sex until marriage.
If we are to learn the lost art of fasting and enjoy its fruit, it will not come with our ear to the ground of society, but with Bibles open. Then, the concern will not be whether we fast, but when. Jesus assumes his followers will fast, and even promises it will happen. He doesn’t say “if,” but “when you fast” (Matthew 6:16). And he doesn’t say his followers might fast, but “they will” (Matthew 9:15).
“Fasting is markedly counter-cultural in our consumerist society, like abstaining from sex until marriage.”
We fast in this life because we believe in the life to come. We don’t have to get it all here and now, because we have a promise that we will have it all in the coming age. We fast from what we can see and taste, because we have tasted and seen the goodness of the invisible and infinite God — and are desperately hungry for more of him.
Radical, Temporary Measure
Fasting is for this world, for stretching our hearts to get fresh air beyond the pain and trouble around us. And it is for the battle against the sin and weakness inside us. We express our discontent with our sinful selves and our longing for more of Christ.
When Jesus returns, fasting will be done. It’s a temporary measure, for this life and age, to enrich our joy in Jesus and prepare our hearts for the next — for seeing him face to face. When he returns, he will not call a fast, but throw a feast; then all holy abstinence will have served its glorious purpose and be seen by all for the stunning gift it was. Until then, we will fast.
How to Start Fasting
Fasting is hard. It sounds much easier in concept than it proves to be in practice. It can be surprising how on-edge we feel when we miss a meal. Many an idealistic new "fast-er" has decided to miss a meal and only found our belly drove us to make up for it long before the next mealtime came.
Fasting sounds so simple, and yet the world, our flesh, and the devil conspire to introduce all sorts of complications that keep it from happening. In view of helping you start down the slow path to good fasting, here are six simple pieces of advice. These suggestions might seem pedantic, but the hope is that such basic counsel can serve those who are new at fasting or have never seriously tried it.
1. Start small.
Don’t go from no fasting to attempting a weeklong. Start with one meal; maybe fast one meal a week for several weeks. Then try two meals, and work your way up to a daylong fast. Perhaps eventually try a two-day juice fast.
A juice fast means abstaining from all food and beverage, except for juice and water. Allowing yourself juice provides nutrients and sugar for the body to keep you operating, while also still feeling the effects from going without solid food. It’s not recommended that you abstain from water during a fast of any length.
2. Plan what you’ll do instead of eating.
Fasting isn’t merely an act of self-deprivation, but a spiritual discipline for seeking more of God’s fullness. This means we should have a plan for what positive pursuit to undertake in the time it normally takes to eat. We spend a good portion of our day with food in front of us. One significant part of fasting is the time it creates for prayer and meditation on God’s word or some act of love for others.
Before diving headlong into a fast, craft a simple plan. Connect it to your purpose for the fast. Each fast should have a specific spiritual purpose. Identify what that is and design a focus to replace the time you would have spent eating. Without a purpose and plan, it’s not Christian fasting; it’s just going hungry.
3. Consider how it will affect others.
Fasting is no license to be unloving. It would be sad to lack concern and care for others around us because of this expression of heightened focus on God. Love for God and for neighbor goes together. Good fasting mingles horizontal concern with the vertical. If anything, others should even feel more loved and cared for when we’re fasting.
So as you plan your fast, consider how it will affect others. If you have regular lunches with colleagues or dinners with family or roommates, assess how your abstaining will affect them, and let them know ahead of time, instead of just being a no-show, or springing it on them in the moment that you will not be eating.
Also, consider this backdoor inspiration for fasting: If you make a daily or weekly practice of eating with a particular group of friends or family, and those plans are interrupted by someone’s travel or vacation or atypical circumstances, consider that as an opportunity to fast, rather than eating alone.
4. Try different kinds of fasting.
The typical form of fasting is personal, private, and partial, but we find a variety of forms in the Bible: personal and communal, private and public, congregational and national, regular and occasional, absolute and partial.
In particular, consider fasting together with your family, small group, or church. Do you share together in some special need for God’s wisdom and guidance? Is there an unusual difficulty in the church, or society, for which you need God’s intervention? Do you want to keep the second coming of Christ in view? Plead with special earnestness for God’s help by linking arms with other believers to fast together.
5. Fast from something other than food.
Fasting from food is not necessarily for everyone. Some health conditions keep even the most devout from the traditional course. However, fasting is not limited to abstaining from food. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “Fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose.”
If the better part of wisdom for you, in your health condition, is not to go without food, consider fasting from television, computer, social media, or some other regular enjoyment that would bend your heart toward greater enjoyment of Jesus. Paul even talks about married couples fasting from sex “for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer” (1 Corinthians 7:5).
6. Don’t think of white elephants.
“Without a purpose and plan, it’s not Christian fasting; it’s just going hungry.” When your empty stomach starts to growl and begins sending your brain every “feed me” signal it can, don’t be content to let your mind dwell on the fact that you haven’t eaten. If you make it through with an iron will that says no to your stomach, but doesn’t turn your mind’s eye elsewhere, it says more about your love for food than your love for God.
Christian fasting turns its attention to Jesus or some great cause of his in the world. Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into the key of some eternal anthem, whether it’s fighting against some sin, or pleading for someone’s salvation, or for the cause of the unborn, or longing for a greater taste of Jesus.
Prayer Times at Victory
Prayer and Fasting for Victory Church will be January 7-28. Ask the Lord what He wants you to fast in this time period. Get a purpose and a plan for your fast. Share with someone your reason for fasting and move through the 21 days together. Find a “special” place for you to go pray and spend time in the Word.
Plan to come be part of the prayer meetings. Here are some weekly times for prayer meetings:
Monday – Thursday
6:30 am – 7:30 am at the church
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the church
See you Sunday,
Published on Thursday, January 4, 2018 @ 9:53 AM CDT