God

Self-Condemnation

By Ty Haguewood

I do not always feel good enough. In fact, I don’t feel good enough most of the time. I don’t know if you have ever felt that way. If you have felt not good enough or struggled with self-condemnation, I am right here with you.

Over the last few months, I have realized the severity of self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is not a small issue. Self-condemnation shows us a lot about our belief in God. I want to share three faults of self-condemnation.

Self-Condemnation Distorts the Good News of the Gospel

Self-condemnation is an assault on the good news of the Gospel. God has promised to redeem and rescue His people from condemnation. He doesn’t save people so that they would return to condemnation. Self-condemnation leaves the believer in a state of hopelessness that God never intended for believers to stay in.  It takes the good news out of the Gospel and leaves the person hopeless.

Self-Condemnation Belittles the Price Jesus Paid to Forgive Us

Self-condemnation belittles the blood-bought identity that God purchased for us. As believers, we must not forget how costly it was for God to save us from condemnation. Self-condemnation says the payment didn’t clear because I am somehow not good enough. There is no question that we are not good enough. Nowhere in the Gospel does God make any claim giving us credit for being good enough. The good news of the Gospel is that God is good enough and He made a way for us.  The believer who chooses to return to condemnation demeans the cost Jesus paid for them to be rescued from it.

Self-Condemnation is a Sorry Attempt to Take Control from God

Self-condemnation is an attempt for us to become the judge of our souls. We look at God’s promises and tell Him they are not good enough. We start trying to judge if God should or should not love us, as if we have any say in the matter. God loves you regardless of your approval. The perfect God of the universe does not bow to our approval. As believers we must remember who chose to save us. God did not ask our permission to sacrifice His only Son to save us from the condemnation we deserve. He simply asks us to follow Him.

How Can We Fight Against Self-Condemnation?

We can fight against self-condemnation with the promises of God. If you feel like you are not good enough or somehow still condemning yourself, run to the promises of God and believe them. Stop what you are doing, turn off this blog, and immerse yourself in the Word of God.

You are loved.                               

You have been redeemed.

You have been purchased.

You have been pardoned.

You have been given new life.

 

Living with Balance

By Karen Polich

Not much about our lives is perfectly laid out. How do we find balance?

Our focus point is key in living with “balance”. When our focus is in the right place, we can make the adjustments we need. When we are firmly focused on Christ, we can put everything into perspective. We are gifted with the perfect filter for everything we do.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

We are called to do all things for the glory of God. It’s that simple.

Matt Snook & Ty Haguewood delivered Sunday’s message on balance in our lives and with our finances. You can dive in with them on the podcast.

When it comes to our finances, it’s just one more area where we have the opportunity to glorify God. As we live out God’s call in our lives, advancing the Kingdom is the goal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 This scripture reminds us our dependence should be on God in all things. There is no reason to trust our own efforts or riches above Him.

When our focus is on Him, all the correcting and adjusting become easy and constant from the perspective His will. We can become out of balance with great things as well as bad things, but when God is at the center, and our hearts stay on Him, we will seek the light and live our lives His way.

God has designed happiness and holiness to sync with Him. He is the source of our balance and our joy.

Do you need to shift your focus back to Him? Spend time with God today and ask Him to restore His balance in your life.

 

Praying for Obedience

By Gai Gai Anderson

Pastor woke up from a restless night of sleep and looked at the clock. 4:00 a.m. Wow. Another night of waking, praying, and wondering what God is doing in his family’s life. His ministry is going well, God is touching lives, and his wife and children are happy; but God seems to be nudging his heart to be ready for something new.

Later in the morning, as he sits at his desk pondering the last few days, the phone rings. Someone from Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church is on the other end. “Hello, Pastor, this is a member of the pastor search committee at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our search committee has been praying for the man God wants to lead us into the next season of our life here at our church. We think you could be that man…”

Later on in the evening, Pastor talks to his wife about the phone call, and they begin to pray earnestly about what God is leading them to do. Should they pursue this opportunity for service at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church?

When Abraham was called to go to a place God would show him, he had to make a decision whether he would follow God’s leading or stay in the place where he was already. He listened to God’s voice, gathered his family together, and set out on a journey that would take him into the future God had for him. This journey would touch generations to come.

We want God to give us the pastor He has already been preparing for the ministry here at our church that will touch generations to come. Obedience is the key. Our prayers have taken many different routes in the last several weeks. As we end our focused prayer time led by the pastor search committee, we feel it is time to pray for the pastor God has for us to be obedient to his calling. Let’s be unified in our prayers this week as we pray for God’s working on the other end of this scenario—God’s man to be obedient to his call to be the pastor of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

Let’s pray he will trust God with his whole heart and not rely on his own understanding in this time of searching for God’s will in his life (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Let’s pray that God will give him a vision for what He is about to do in his life, and he would heed God’s wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 29:18).

Let’s pray that he will follow Jesus’s example and spend necessary time alone with God seeking His will (Mark 1:35).

Let’s pray that he will go to God for the true wisdom that he needs to take the next step in God’s plan (James 1:5).

Let’s pray that he will be obedient to God’s call (just as Abraham was), and that he would have the faith to take the first step on the journey (Hebrews 11:8).

 

Praying for Growth and Momentum

By Karen Polich

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

As Christ followers, we should seek growth in our lives. It doesn’t happen without our choosing to be intentional in our relationship with Him. Corporate prayer for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church over the past weeks has been a blessing, showing how His people seek Him with a fervor and passion for His will. Baptisms, new members, growth in the attendance of ministries and personal growth of His people are all reflections of the work God is doing at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

God is not stagnant. He is ever moving, constantly active, and faithful to complete the works He began.

It is something inspiring to see at AFBC. In a season of change, God remains steadfast. His promises never fail and He has called us to bear fruit.

Our prayer focus for the next week is one of growth and momentum for the work God is doing. Praying for our church in these areas shows hope for things yet to come and gratitude for the work He is doing now. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

Is your life reflecting this? Are you rejoicing over what God has done in you as you ask Him to continue to grow you in new ways? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we choose to abide in Him and seek His will, we will bear fruit worthy of His Kingdom.

Over the next week, pray for God’s plans in your life. Ask Him to use you and see where He leads.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Praying for our Pastors

By Karen Polich

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only… James 1:22

Pastors take on role after role to serve others. They teach, preach, counsel, lead, disciple, pray and worship; that’s just on a Sunday morning.  On “quiet” days, hours are spent seeking God in the Word, making hospital visits, working on budgets, and meeting need after need of their congregation. What can we do to help them keep their hearts renewed? We can pray.

We can embrace praying for our pastors and staff with eagerness. Knowing people are praying lightens burdens and multiplies joy. The pastors and staff at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church pour themselves into service, giving their time and talents to answer God’s call. We need to pray for them with a fervor that ignites passion and purpose, not just in the hearts of the staff but in the hearts of the congregation.

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

God is at work, building up His Kingdom. We have the opportunity to seek Him and ask for His guidance and strength for those who serve Him and lead the church. Take time to pray over the next week for the pastors and staff as they live in obedience to His call.

Here are some ways we can pray for our pastors.

  1. Intimacy with Christ. Ask God to strengthen their relationship with Him. Pray for the opportunity to worship and grow closer to the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
  2. Pray for leadership grounded in Truth. Ask God to give them protection and time to grow together. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
  3. Pray for the opportunity to refresh and refuel. Ask God to grant times of rest. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  4. Pray for discernment and the wisdom that can only come from God. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Make praying over those who serve a priority this week. God will continue to do great things as we seek Him.

Seek Wisdom

By Evan Anderson

God has promised His people that He would never leave nor forsake them. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Time after time He has proven Himself faithful to them, even amid trials and tribulation.

James writes to a scattered people during their trials and oppression with the purpose of encouraging them in their pursuit of faith. He writes this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:7) James tells these people that when they are lacking wisdom, they need to run to God.

We will all face trials and oppressions. As disciples of Christ, when we lack the knowledge of what to do, we are called by God to run to Him in dependency and security.  This wisdom of God that He promises to all who ask Him is founded not from a place of human intelligence, but from a place of submission.

We are not called to be wise in our own self, we are called to be submissive to the one who is all wise and sovereignly in control. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. In addition, Proverbs 3:7 tells us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” The wisdom we are given by God drives us more to dependency on God, not to self-glorification. God is the source of wisdom, we are not.

Know that when you ask God for wisdom in difficult situations, God will freely give it for the betterment of your soul and sanctification.  God has given us His Word and every ounce of wisdom from God should stem from the Word of God.  God’s wisdom from His Word helps direct and inform us on how to live.

We may not always be gifted with the understanding of why life has taken a dramatic turn, but God’s wisdom informs us on how to take that turn in a way that pleases and glorifies Him.

During this season in the life of our church, we desperately need to devote time to pray and ask God to grant wisdom to our leaders, pastors, teams, and everyone within our church body.  We need to dive deep into God’s Word expecting Him to draw us closer to Him, and to grant us the wisdom to make the choices we need to make today. All of this is said because only a wisdom that comes from God will truly enable us to endure our trials with joy and humility.

 

 

Patience & Waiting

By Gai Gai Anderson

Waiting on anything in our lives is not easy. Living in this “gotta have it now” world, we pay extra just to have our orders shipped overnight. Waiting on God is not something we can speed up if we really want what God wants in our lives.

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s people waiting on God for help, leadership, and deliverance (Moses in the desert, Noah before the flood, Nehemiah before approaching the king, the Israelites waiting for the Messiah to come, Cornelius to hear God’s truth through Peter, Saul after being blinded, and believers waiting for the Holy Spirit to come after Jesus’ ascension). In all these accounts, the people were waiting on God’s will to be revealed or accomplished.

Patience is an integral part of waiting on God. Patience is part of the fruit of the Spirit given when the Holy Spirit enters a life that has received Jesus as Savior and Lord (Galatians 5:22). Patience has a whole lot to do with waiting on God to intervene.  Like patience is a part of waiting, trust is a part of patience.

It is easier to be patient when you trust the person you are having to wait on. When it comes to trusting, God is faithful in keeping His promises. We can trust Him with everything.

Finding a pastor to lead our church is not an easy task. It requires the desire to first let go of ourselves and to seek and trust God completely. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”

We want God’s man, not ours. This means we must wait on God’s timing. We need to make sure we are praying and seeking God during this interim period between senior pastors. “We must pray with a willingness to wait and wait with a willingness to pray. Waiting and praying go together.” (Quoted from Mom’s Devotional Bible, 1996).

Waiting, praying, and trusting go hand-in-hand. Let’s pray daily for the pastor search committee to find God’s man while trusting God to lead them; and pray for all of us to wait on God to do His work.

Be patient. God will come through.

Guided by the Holy Spirit

By Michelle McFadden

Every day as the kids and I are in the car making our way to school we pray. My prayer is always, “Lord, let your Holy Spirit guide my kids today”. I tell them to do what the Holy Spirit leads them to do throughout the day, not just what they want to do. They find it so amazing that the same God who did healings and miracles came to dwell within them when they accepted Jesus as their Savior. It’s always a teaching moment.

Like the children, I am still learning to discern God’s voice and be led by the Spirit of God. It’s something I am studying with friends at work. Through this study, it has become more and more apparent to me how tough it is to recognize His voice all the time. It takes practice daily to listen and be ready. We need to abide in Him in order to even hear His voice.

This is true for every area of our lives. As we await the Holy Spirit to guide us in our search for a new pastor for our church, we all need to spend time with Him listening. The waiting time is just as important as when the answer will be revealed.

One of my favorite Bible characters is Paul. I admire his obedience and trust in the Holy Spirit to reveal answers to him.

 Trembling and astonished he asked, Lord, what do You desire me to do? The Lord said to him, But arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. Acts 9:6

Right from his conversion Paul had to wait on the Holy Spirit; and was willing to be obedient in the waiting. He waited three days for Ananias to come to touch him. He expected an answer. He knew without doubt the Father would answer.

“If we come to Him doubting His ability to speak, we will have a difficult time listening. So, we must come expectantly.” – Charles Stanley

In Romans, Paul tells the people, as followers of Christ we will be led by the Holy Spirit. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Children of God. Romans 8:14

There are two key phrases here. One is “Children of God”. We can only be spoken to by the Holy Spirit if we are believers in Christ. Once we have accepted Christ as our Savior then the Holy Spirit dwells in us and can speak. The second is “led”, not controlled. We are not forced to do His will we are not mere playthings. He allows us to have freedom in our actions.

We can trust His promise, answering our call, and leading us to the right decisions or choices to be made. He will lead our church in the direction He wants and tell us the choice of leadership, we must be willing to have full trust and expect His will to be done.

 

Hide and Seek

By Karen Polich

Are you a seeker or a hider? Jesus’ teaching, using parables, will help us understand where we are and how to make a choice about our obedience.

Parables are meant to point us in one direction, towards God. Dr. Trey Sullins continued, The Parables of Jesus, with Hide and Seek. Stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin take us to the core of what Jesus is asking us to decide. (Luke 15:1-10, Matthew 18:12-16) Listen to the podcast here. Will we hide, not choosing to follow Jesus? When we know Him, will we seek Him and the lost?

Jesus has a heart for the outcast. He calls the righteous to go out and find the lost. When they are found – rejoice! Just as He teaches in the parables, the love of God is huge. He will always seek us out when we are lost. When we know Him, He equips us to seek after the lost for His name’s sake.

Who are the lost? The lost are those who are without a relationship with Christ, a follower who has wandered off or a follower hiding from God. The righteous know God but aren’t doing anything about it or are doing good deeds but missing something related to doing the right things.

“You are either lost and need to be found or found and need to go find the lost.” – Dr. Trey Sullins

God’s Word tells us to go and do, so we need to get up and get going. We can choose to be found; we can choose to seek the lost. Anything less is disobedience. Seek God’s will in your life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We don’t have to rest on our understanding. When we seek God’s will in our lives, He will direct us. Trust Him. Today, make a choice. Make the decision to follow Christ and to do what He has called you to do.

 

 

Living Water – Part 1

By Gerry Wakeland

Did you know that water is the most critical need of the human being?

Life cannot exist without water. Our bodies are comprised of 80% water. A person can go weeks without food but only three days without water.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-40 NKJV

Using this Scripture as a foundation, our guest speaker, Dr. James T. Draper reminded us of the importance of reading Scripture in context. He took us into the passage in John 7 and painted a vivid picture of the scene and its significance. Listen to the podcast here.

It was the last and most important day of the Jewish Feast of the Tabernacle. This feast was the highest, happiest and most holy of the Jewish festivals. We would see it much like a large carnival. It was a feast about water.

Each day the temple priests would lead a procession through Jerusalem’s water gate and pour their jars of water through a great funnel. The crowds would cheer. This was an act of thanksgiving to their God. However, on the last day when the priest would start to pour there was no water in the jar? Why? Because it was the belief of the Jews that the Messiah had not come. The lack of water indicated the absence of a savior. The crowd was silent.

It was during this stony silence that Jesus chose to stand up and cry out. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Let’s look together at the significance of Jesus’ words and actions.

In this day and time Rabbis did not stand and teach; they sat. The only time standing was appropriate was when they were making an official announcement. At the moment when the Jewish people were focused on the jar with no water, Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be the water. He was announcing His place as Messiah.

There are only four passages in the book of John where the writer uses the term “cried out.” In addition to this passage, others include the baptism of Jesus, the triumphal entry, and the crucifixion. All pretty significant passages. This gives you some idea of the magnitude of this announcement at this time.

Now that you have a picture of what was taking place, let’s go back and look at the words of Jesus. He was offering an invitation. An incredible, amazing, wonderful, marvelous invitation. “Come to Me and drink.“ Come and receive the gift of salvation.”

A gift…He was offering them a gift, the greatest gift of all. And all they had to do was receive it.

What about you? Have you received the gift of salvation? Have you drunk of the living water? Water is vital to our life here on earth. Living water is essential to our eternal life.

Don’t delay. Receive the gift. Open the gift and enjoy the gift, today and forever.