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September 23, 2019, 11:52 AM

Answering the Bell


 

Mike Tyson began his professional boxing career in 1985. At just 20 years old he became the youngest man to be crowned the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. While in his prime, and still considered by some, he was known as the baddest man on the planet. He fought with such a ferocity that even before his opponents stepped into the ring, many of them were scared to death as the fear and intimidation of Tyson showed in their behavior. The overwhelming majority of Tyson’s victories were by brutal knockout and came in the early rounds of the fight. (I like to joke that I have more knockouts than Tyson because I put people to sleep every Sunday.) One of the keys to being a successful boxer is not only being able to throw a good punch but also being able to endure the onslaught of punches that are taken. The most vulnerable time for a boxer is when he gets tired, overconfident, or complacent and drops his guard. That’s when he can get completely blindsided and knocked to the canvas. It happens to all of us in life from time to time. We get some sort of unexpected news, a bad report from the doctor, a child goes on a wayward tangent, or someone secretly devises a plan of attack that you never saw coming and hits you with it when you have your guard down. There are times when we all get knocked down, and as some of Tyson’s opponents, we’re afraid to get back up even if we’re able. If you can understand what I’m talking about, then let me encourage you a little bit. First of all, never forget that there is an enemy that wars against God and every follower of Christ. It’s not the person throwing the metaphorical punches at you, they are simply acting under the influence of him. Secondly, if the enemy is attacking you, it just might be because he feels threated by you and is trying to take you out. Thirdly, don’t try to fight this battle in your own strength. If the enemy we face is spiritual, of the principalities of evil and darkness, then do your fighting in the spiritual realm. Cast your cares on Christ because He cares for you. As you lay on the canvas of life feeling like the 10 count is just about up, remember that the power to answer the bell is found in the victory of Jesus Christ that has overcome this world and that our faith in Him makes us overcomers as well. Habakkuk in 2:4 says that the righteous shall live by faith. More literally the verse states that the righteous will live by faithfulness. The faithfulness that comes by faith in God through Jesus Christ. Faith that is called by Paul in Ephesians 6:16, the shield by which we are able to extinguish all the fiery arrows of the enemy. Note that Paul doesn’t just say that the shield of faith can simply block the arrows of the enemy. He says that the faith of the believer living faithfully to God can extinguish the arrows and rend them powerless. Because when we live in faithfulness to God, He is our defender, our rock, our refuge, our ever-present help in times of need, our cleft, our peace, our provider, our hope, our victory, and the strength we need to continue answering the bell. We realize that it’s not about us, but about a battle taking place on a grander scale in the spiritual realm. That’s why it is so important to not only pick up the shield of faith but every piece of the armor of God. Paul concludes the section about armor with a command to continue in prayer throughout the course of standing by faith. Part of that is calling out to God by name those people that the enemy is utilizing. Nehemiah 6:14 is a perfect example of offering up people by name for God to intervene in their life in order to accomplish His purpose. In the mean-time, just keep answering the bell.

Robert




September 18, 2019, 10:58 AM

Role Reversal


In the days of kings and kingdoms, when battles raged for lands and dominance, there weren’t methods of communication like what we have today. The victors would use various gruesome methods to display what would happen to anyone that might oppose them in the future. Sometimes it would be crucifixion, impaling, or hanging the bodies up at the city gates. Another way was to send the head of a conquered king or insurrectionist to the people he represented to signify utter defeat. We all have battles we face and sometimes it feels hopeless to even continue fighting. When the enemy seems to be gaining ground and winning at every turn it can cause a person’s heart to grow weary. But one thing can be said, it ain’t over yet. Paul said in 2Timothy 1:12 that he was willing to endure the hardships of this life without shame or despair because he knew the One in whom he had believed and was convinced that He is able to guard that which Paul had committed to Him. Paul reminded Timothy that regardless of how things may be playing out in the earthly realm, the victory had already been won in the heavenly realm. It can sometimes be very difficult to remember that when we are in the middle of being assaulted by the enemy and the schemes of darkness. But take heart. Think back to the story of David and Goliath. Not just the fact that the giant was slain by the little shepherd boy with a sling and a stone. Think of how David refused to be intimidated by the insults, size, training, weapons, or armor of Goliath. Remember that David declared the victory would be given him by the Lord, the God of angel armies. Recall that David told Goliath that he was going to cut off his head and all the world would know there is a God in Israel. Now stop just a second and think about that statement in 1Samuel 17:48 where David said he was going to cut off Goliath’s head. David had nothing but a sling and some stones. There was only one way he was going to decapitate the giant. But that’s exactly what happened, fast forward to verse 51. As David stands triumphant over the slain giant, He takes the very weapon the enemy had come against him with and cuts Goliath’s head off. The weapon of the enemy was now being used to emphasize God bringing victory for David. Hear this, the very weapon that the enemy is coming at you with to attack you, to keep you from victory in life, from living for Christ, or even making you think you’re not able to be saved, just might be the thing God is going to use to shame him with. If addiction is the enemy’s sword in your life, come to Christ and let God use that past to reach those caught in the same lies. If it’s a weapon of self-esteem or depression, God can break those chains and allow you to be the voice of hope someone needs to hear. There are so many examples that could be inserted at this point. Keep fighting in the strength of Lord and He just might use the weapon of the enemy to send a message of defeat to all the forces of darkness and victory to all who hope in Christ. The cross was turned from a symbol of death, shame, and fear to the banner of victory, life, and salvation in Jesus.

 

https://youtu.be/aJFhHf-NjRg




September 10, 2019, 11:48 AM

Waiting for Othniel


The last few years I have been fortunate to be able to take a group of pre-teen students to camp. One of my favorite things to do during free time is fishing in the pond. I enjoy fishing but seldom get the chance to do it. Since I don’t fish very often, I’m not that good at it. Not only do I not catch very many fish, I usually spend more time making a mess of the line than actually fishing. There was a time this past summer when we were fishing at camp that I somehow created what is known as a “bird’s nest” in the fishing line. Now, this wasn’t the first time I had done this but this time I was determined to fix it on my own. It was so hot that day and I was sweating profusely and swatting at mosquitos the size of half-dollars all while trying most unsuccessfully to untangle the mess I had created. Finally, after spending a good 30-45 minutes in my vain attempt, I called out to my friend Ronnie who is an avid fisherman. See, I was determined to not ask for help because I didn’t want anyone to know I had messed up and my pride said I could fix it on my own. As he approached me, he jokingly scolding me for making such a big mess and lovingly laughed at my ineptitude. So much for my pride. He showed me grace and took time away from his fishing to help me. To add to my shame and frustration, it took Ronnie all of about 37 seconds to fix what I had spent nearly an hour working on and had only seemed to make worse. Before he went back to fishing he told me next time to let him know so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time suffering with it.

I was reminded of that principle recently while studying in the Book of Judges. The Israelites had started well in the journey of conquering the Promised Land, but not long after Joshua died, the people began to drift away from the Lord. Judges 3:7 tells us that they had begun doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and turn to worship other gods. Because of their sin God sent an oppressor to punish them. Verse 8 says that the king of Aram Naharaim ruled over them for eight years. It was at this point the Israelites cried out to God and He sent them a deliverer, Othniel, to save them from this oppression.

I wondered, why the term of eight years? I thought of many scenarios that might be plausible, but in the end, one struck me in the heart. They didn’t cry out to God until after eight years. For whatever reason, they endured the consequences of their sin and broken relationship with God for eight years. This draws to my mind the prodigal son who, after a season of suffering because of poor choices, came to his senses and headed back toward his father. Too many times people try to fix things on their own or get caught up in worry about what other people may say. This causes them to forget about the grace of God that is waiting for the cry for help.

If this is you, simply stop right now and cry out to God for help. God uses circumstances to accomplish His purpose in the lives of people and sometimes that purpose is to drive them back to Him. Don’t keep trying to fix things on your own, you’ll only wind up making them worse. Confess your sin, repent, and cry out to God for your deliverer to come and set you free from the oppression of sin. Othniel set the people free for a period of 40 years, Jesus can set you free for eternity.

Robert

https://youtu.be/9JXl1czvh7g




September 3, 2019, 7:12 PM

Cleaning the clutter


In an attempt to declutter this tab, I have taken down all blogs over a year old.  Please contact me if you would like any of the blog entries that are no longer listed.  Also, there are extended versions of many of these entries that dig deeper into the Scriptures and include other real life events available upon request.  You can reach me at pastor.beallchapel@gmail.com.  Thank you for reading these blogs.




September 3, 2019, 7:05 PM

Identity Crisis


It seems like over the last few years our nation and society have entered into a severe identity crisis. To an extent, even the Church has struggled with this as well. I believe this has occurred in part because we have forgotten who we are. By forgotten I mean that we have willfully neglected the truth and put it out of our minds. A person who identifies as a different gender than how they were born has chosen to willfully forget the truth of how they were created. A nation that applauds and encourages sinful lifestyles while aggressively attacking Christian beliefs has turned its back on the Biblical principles it was founded upon. A Church that is more interested in creating an “experience” by attempting to make the Gospel fit with the theme of Spiderman or anything else that doesn’t place God at the center of our worship has, like the Israelites long ago, forgotten who He is and begun to chase after pleasing people rather than honoring God. The danger isn’t that the Church will completely turn away from God, but that it will try to incorporate just enough of the Gospel with aspects of secularism and will be left with nothing but a watered-down version of the truth. The remedy for this identity crisis is found in Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans begins by declaring who he is. I don’t mean that he tells them his name, he says that he is a slave to Christ. To Paul, being a follower of Christ wasn’t something he did when it was easy or convenient. He said, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,” as a declaration of who he was, not what he did. Too many people see Christianity as something they do rather than who they are. Another common problem is that the submissive role of a being a slave to Christ is rejected due to a desire for self-notoriety. Paul informed the people of his name and his identity and that they were not one in the same.

Secondly, Paul informs his audience of his role in the ministry of the Gospel. Remember, Paul was a tentmaker by trade, but an Apostle by calling. Regardless of your vocation, as a Christian you have a calling on your life. A coach may be an evangelist, a nurse can be a minister, the retired person can be an intercessory prayer warrior. So often we forget that who we are isn’t predicated by what we do. A secular job may just be an opportunity for you to exercise the Spiritual gifts God has equipped you with in order to fulfill your calling.

Thirdly, Paul says he exercises his calling as an apostle for two main reasons. The first being to call people to obedience to God through faith in Jesus by declaring the Good News. The second, the crescendo of all that Paul did as a servant to Christ, that as an Apostle called by God to share the Gospel with the gentiles was that it would be done for the sake of Christ’s name and for His glory. He knew why he was doing what he was doing.

Paul had no identity crisis. He knew who he was and who he served, what he was created for, and why he was to do it. There are only two identities in this life, either you’re saved or not. If you’re saved, then you are equipped with Spiritual gifts to exercise in your calling regardless of your vocation. Finally, if you’re saved and living out your calling, you know it’s not for your glory, but for the glory of the Lord. If this process isn’t happening in your life then you might need to seek God and examine yourself as to why it isn’t. If you have never confessed your sin and placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone, that is where you need to start today.

Robert


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