Temptation Island
Temptation Island

Dennis Davis • May 25, 2019

James 1:14-15(NIV) - but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 

      15    Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 



Here is a typical exchange between two church members that takes place each and every week in so many churches:

“Good morning, Sister Reed, how are you today?”

“I’m blessed in the Lord. How are you doing Brother Simpkins?”

“Oh I’m blessed in the Lord too, thank you.”

Does that sound familiar to anyone? For many of us, those comments or some variation of them is something that is expected of so called “mature” Christians. Its not necessarily preached overtly in the pulpit or directly taught in Bible class, however, there seems to be this unspoken rule that we, who have accepted Christ in our lives, should profess nothing but the blessings of heaven. I fully agree that God blesses His children on a regular and continuous basis. That goes without saying, however, in our walk with Christ, we will have good days and we will have bad days. Part of the purpose of church is to help equip us with the tools needed to live a Godly life but another very strong component of the church is to be there for each other through trials, tribulations, temptations and strife. Yet oftentimes, the only people that speak about a temptation are those who either just walked in the door of the church or those who have just confessed the need for Christ in their lives. But what about the rest of the church body? Does satan stop tempting us when we reach a certain spiritual age? If I’ve been saved for two years (or is it 5 years) then that means I never have to worry about temptation again? No, I really don’t think that’s the case. More likely, in fact, is that I’ve gone to Temptation Island.

What is Temptation Island? Well, aside from a television program, Temptation Island in the church is where Christians go when satan begins to tempt them. It is an island where your all alone and there’s no one around to see or hear your struggles with any given problem until the point that you fall in the water and begin to drown in that temptation. Then people will notice you very quickly. It is an island where you can look out across the water at others on their islands and shout, “I’m blessed,” but here on your island, your struggling with a problem. Temptation Island looks beautiful and wholesome from a distance but a closer look will reveal storms of chaos, winds of struggle and rains of defeat on all sides. To help better explain what this island is all about, I’ve taken the liberty of renting a small boat. Its moored right down here on the docks, so come on in and have a seat. Put your life jacket on and I’ll take you on a tour of just a few of these islands.

The first island that we come to on our tour is the island of Denise. Denise is a long time member of her church and very active. She’s a member of the choir, an usher, works on the Hospitality committee and loves to go out and witness to the world about Christ. She loves Sunday School and doesn’t miss a Bible Study class if she can help it. Yes, indeed, Denise is a faithful member of her church and is respected and loved by everyone. See how beautiful her island looks? But wait, let me steer our boat just a bit closer and see if we can see anything else. Ah, look over there to the left. See that smoke? No, its not a signal fire, it’s a cigarette. Denise has a problem with smoking that she can’t seem to break. She’s been saved for years now but she struggles constantly with this addiction. She doesn’t smoke all the time anymore but there’s just certain times when the urge is too strong and she has to have one. Sometimes she’ll be in a store, other times the urge comes when she’s having a very bad day but for whatever reason it happens, she gives in and lights one up. The satisfaction is always mingled with guilt and shame and even before she finishes, she’s nearly in tears wondering why she can’t give this up. She’s prayed, she’s fasted and she’s consecrated to overcome it, and she has had many victories. There have been times when she’s gone for two or three months without a smoke. Yet, just as she’s becoming joyful that she’s past it, out of nowhere, the urge returns. What does she do? All during this struggle, she’s still been working faithfully in the church. She’s heard sermon after sermon about being a new creature and walking in the spirit so as not to fulfill the lust of the flesh. How then, can she profess to be a true Christian if she can’t overcome this lust? Who can she turn to for help? If she tells anyone in the church, they might offer her a few words of encouragement but they’ll also “suggest” she step down from the choir, take a break from witnessing for awhile, etc…until she overcomes her problem. In other words, the very place that she should go to for help is the place that’s first to ostracize her cast her away. She’s seen it happen to other faithful members in the past and she doesn’t want it to happen to her so Denise continues to respond with “I’m blessed” as she privately struggles with her problem. All alone on her island, Denise fights to find that way to escape temptation.

Hmm, its getting a bit late and I’ve got to turn this boat back in before 6pm so we only have time to look at one more island. Ah, over there is the island of James. That one looks even prettier from here, but lets steer over towards that beach area and have a look around:

James is a faithful man of God. He’s one of the deacons in his church, he picks neighborhood kids up on Sundays for Sunday School and just recently, James has accepted a call on his life to enter the ministry. He has a beautiful wife and two wonderful kids and, like Denise, he’s respected by everyone in his church. But, James has a problem with lusting after women. As much as he’s tried to get rid of the lust, its still there. No, James doesn’t cruise down the boulevard late at night trying to pick up prostitutes but he does enjoy watching some of the late night pornographic movies that come on late at night on the movie channels. He does enjoy flirting with some of his female friends at work and on occasion, he’ll peruse through some adult magazines when he goes to get his paper at the local bookstore. This private struggle has been going on for years but there have been victories. He no longer feels compelled to go to the adult bookstores and he’s been delivered from the chat rooms. Yet, interspersed with the victories are many failures and defeats. Again, like Denise, he’s prayed and fasted and cried out before God for complete and total victory over this one area of his life. He doesn’t feel like he can go to anyone in his church because they would take away his keys to the front door, tell him someone else will pick up the kids next Sunday and most definitely tell him to forget about being a Minister for God. And so, he continues to struggle and fight his private fight, hoping that one day he will be fully delivered from his island.

Well, its time to head back to the dock and drop you all off. I hope you enjoyed your tour. What did you say? How do these people get off their islands? Well, lets talk about it until we reach land.

These islands are built up by individuals who are afraid to go to their fellow Christians for help through temptation times. The reasons are many but they basically fall into two categories. Either an island is built up by one’s own pride that prevents that person from seeking out help or the church has proven in the past that it does not provide support, direction and fellowship for those members that are struggling through a weakness. Lets look at both of these in turn.

First, if someone has too much pride to seek out help then they are at fault and chances are that they will never fully overcome their struggle. The Bible teaches that there are three basic types of sins: lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and pride of life. If someone is buried deep in all three categories, they will continue on a downward path until they are either exposed or become so defeated that they leave the church all together. If someone loves to drink smoke, that person has a sin of the flesh. When she sees a pack of cigarettes in the store and lusts after it, she is in the sin of the eye. Yet, if she is so caught up in her own glory that she fails to go to her church body for help in overcoming, she is in the pride of life sin. If that person has truly been made a new creature in Christ, then she needs to come to the realization that part of that new life is to leave the old things, habits and attitudes behind and press forward. If she is totally committed to walking in the righteousness of God then she will crucify all of her flesh, including her pride and seek out help.

Secondly, if the local church doesn’t provide support for individuals in need, then that local church needs to examine itself. God established the church for the equipping, strengthening and wisdom building of the church. This means helping those who are in need with programs such as a buddy system whereby someone can call another member when the urge comes along and that member can pray and council with that person to help him overcome it. Because a church sets up addiction or temptation related programs doesn’t mean that that church is tolerating those acts. What it does mean, however, is that that church recognizes that although we have been re-borne of the spirit, yet are we still in the flesh and sometimes all of us struggle with overcoming that flesh. The church that provides these programs understands that sin and the temptation to sin does not end just because you’ve taken a position in the church or because you’ve been saved for years. This is the type of church that will chastise the sin but support the sinner. Just as Paul did with the churches that he established, we should do today. Yes, point out the sin to the person and show what its doing to destroy their lives but then council and help the person to find a way to escape that temptation that they may overcome it. It’s the word of Christ that says we are overcomers if we draw nigh unto Him. It is in our churches that we should gather together to support, love and comfort our own. Would Jesus do anything less for each and everyone of us?

Well, watch your step or you’ll slip in the water. I hope you all enjoyed your tour of the islands. Go back and tell a few people all about your trip for me, will you? Oh, and hey, the next time someone in your church starts to grow a Temptation Island of their own, steer over there and help them out. You never know, the next time someone could be swimming to your island.


~Pastor Dennis Davis

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Unity Keys
Unity Keys

Dennis Davis • May 24, 2019

    

Philippians 2:1–4 NIV

1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.




Unlike many of the churches that Paul wrote letters to, the church at Philippi was a strong, vibrant church that was on the move for God. When a church is in multiplication mode and adding new members constantly, it can be an exciting time. New ministries are springing up and new people are wanting to jump in and be a part of something big.



However, with new people comes new problems and so Paul is giving the Philippian church a set of principles to live by to make sure that today’s progress does not turn into tomorrow’s hot mess. Let’s call these principles Unity Keys and look at each one briefly.



First, there is the key of having Christ’s love manifest in each of us daily. If we recognize that Jesus loves us regardless of our personalities and our faults, then that will help us to love one another and show compassion and tenderness to our brothers and sisters even when we don’t fully agree with them about something.



Next, Paul talks about being like-minded. Although God does not want robots that all look and sound the same, He does desire for His children to be like-minded in pursuing His love and loving one another to fulfill the mission of the church.



Finally, Paul talks about the need for humility in the church. The reality is that the more gifted a person is, the more need for him or her to constantly seek God to stay humble. Remember, the very Savior of the world got down and washed some nasty, crusty feet just to show what it means to be humble. And so, whatever we do in the church for God, we have to remain humble and not get puffed up in our accomplishments. Also, we must, must, must value one another above ourselves. Let’s stop whispering behind each other’s backs because God gave this one a particular gift or anointing and instead, start praising Him for sending that gift into the local church to help it continue to grow and build.



So there we have it, the Unity Keys to keep our churches moving forward. Love, Like-mindness and Humility. Whether your church is multiplying, adding or doing no math at all, as you meditate on these words, ask yourself these questions:



“I’m part of the church so am I showing my church family love? Do I completely turn off and tune out when someone says something I don’t like or am I striving to be like-minded? Finally, in my humility, am I valuing others’ opinions, personalities and gifts or just looking at them side-eyed every time they open their mouths?”



The answers to some of these questions just may surprise and convict you.


~Pastor Dennis Davis

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The Purpose Of Power
The Purpose Of Power

Dennis Davis • May 23, 2019

Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.


Its time for a confession and here it is; I waited and waited and waited to buy new batteries for the television remote.  For days the notice would show up on TV that our remote batteries were low on power and needed to be changed but it was a “one-of-these-days” chores.  I’ll change it but not right now. Finally, the day came that I tried to turn on the TV and it didn’t work. Guess what? The power was completely gone out of the batteries.  OK, no worries, right? I pull off the back cover to see that I need 4 triple A (AAA) batteries and then I saunter off to the utility drawer for some replacements. After digging through the drawer for a few minutes, I did what any self-respecting man would do;  “Honey, do we have any new batteries?” The response back was to look in the next drawer and so with a smile on my face, I yank open the drawer and pull out the pack of brand-spanking new batteries. My smile slowly started to turn upside down when I noticed that it was a pack of 4 double A (AA) batteries and not triple A (AAA) like I needed.  In those batteries, I had power but nowhere to put that power to work.


In our verse today, Jesus is explaining to HIs disciples that they will receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon them.  But, He goes on to tell them that there is a purpose to having the power which is to proclaim the gospel to family, friends, strangers and all across the world.  I’m afraid that in today’s churches, too many people want the power of God but don’t want to fulfill the purpose for which the power is given. Many times we want to hear words of praise from people such as, “oh he’s so anointed,” or “she has such spiritual power.”  There’s nothing wrong with getting complimented every now and then but the point should not be missed. Jesus is not looking to give us power to glorify ourselves but He wants to give us power to glorify God. And, while I’m on the subject, this power is given to us through the Holy Spirit and not because of anything we did to earn it.  Zechariah said it best, “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts! (Zechariah 4:6)


And so, the power of God is given to us to carry out the purposes and plans of God.  When you learn to walk in the divine power, soon you will begin to see things happening in your life that you never thought possible.  How else could a sad, scared man like Peter who denied Jesus 3 times, receive the power of the Holy Spirit and suddenly begin preaching so powerfully that 3000 souls were saved in one sermon?  Because the power he received was used for the purpose of spreading the gospel. When power meets purpose lives are changed, miracles can happen and God will be glorified.


Pastor Dennis Davis

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In The Midst Of The Storm
In The Midst Of The Storm

Dennis Davis • May 21, 2019


Luke 8:24 - The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.


Picture this with me if you will.


It’s a dark unsettling night. Rain beats down in cold sheets. Winds blow their songs of despair all across the water. Waves rise and fall like some wickedly wet roller coaster. A small boat can be seen in the water being tossed about like a child’s toy in the bathtub. In the boat are twelve men; cold, wet and full of fear. The twelve men were feeling euphoric and overjoyed but a few hours ago up on the hill when the Son was shining. A calm sky marked a day of teaching, healing and an evening of feeding. What was for dinner you ask? Why, some delicious smoked fish and freshly made bread. They were full, for they were all able to have seconds and thirds; after all, the boy had brought along 2 fish and 5 loaves for all the thousands.


Now, however, an icy fear gripped their hearts greater than the cold of the waters. Some of them were fishermen and had seen the effects of such a storm. They had witnessed wave soaked bodies washed up on the shore. They had seen the broken wreckage of other boats that did not survive storms like this. Some of them bailed water out of the boat with numbed hands while others plied the rigging to try to steer the boat along the path of the water to prevent it from being dashed against the waves like a bug on a windshield. But, one thing was on all their minds. “Where is He?” Doesn’t He see that we’re in the midst of a storm and about to be sent to a watery grave? Doesn’t He care? Doesn’t He hear our cries?” Sound familiar?


Suddenly, as quiet as a ghost, He water walks towards them. Only one of the twelve got the right idea. “Hmm,” he said, “it seems to me that in a storm the best place to be is with Him.” He got out of the boat and started to walk towards him; faltered and started to sink. Yet His loving hand reached down and pulled him out of the depths of despair. He walked with him to the boat and stepped in. At just that moment, the winds began to sing a song of joy. The waves quieted and rocked gently in His presence. The storm had bowed down before Him and professed Him to be Lord of all. Imagine the tears of joy on the faces of the twelve. Imagine the relief at knowing they would not meet their deaths on this night. For the first time, they truly worshiped Him.


In the midst of a storm, when the sky is black as death, despair and depression seem to be everywhere, stop trying to bail out your little boat of problems. Stop trying to reach land alone. Look at, look up and reach for His hand. After all, in the end, it is only His grace and tender mercy that will take each of us out of the storm and to the other side.


Pastor Dennis Davis


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Praise For Peace
Praise For Peace

Dennis Davis • May 20, 2019

John 16:33 -    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


At the end of the Upper Room conversation that Jesus had with His followers, He concluded by telling them, “look, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.” What He was explaining to them was that even though they loved Him and even though they followed Him, trouble would still be waiting around the corner. “In this world you will have trouble.”



I’ve been in many services and heard many preachers declare that saved folk don’t have problems and if you have problems maybe you’re not saved. For every person dealing with troubles that walked away from a message like that, look to the words of Jesus Himself. When we said yes to Jesus and no to the world, we were granted entrance into the kingdom of God and one day when we leave this world we will be present with Him. But until that day comes, everyone of us will experience times of joy but also times of trouble. That’s the bad news.



But here’s the good news. In fact, it was more than news; it was a promise. He told them and is still telling us today that in Him we can find peace. Catch the words of the verse very carefully. We will have trouble; that is a definite fact. But, even in times of trouble we can still walk in peace. Why? Because Jesus has already overcome the world which means we can overcome the trouble facing us in our world as well.



If I were in church I would say that this is a shouting moment because it lets us know that no matter what we go through we don’t have to stress. It doesn’t matter if its bills, medical problems, kids acting up or whatever the trouble, being in Christ means we can apply His peace to our trouble. Why? Because I have the promise of God that as long as Jesus is the center of my life when trouble comes my way, peace is already there. What kind of peace? The peace that lets me know whatever I’m going through, it shall be overcome because Jesus already overcame the entire world. With that knowledge, every time trouble comes along, I can begin to offer up praise to Jesus for His everlasting peace.


Pastor Dennis Davis

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The Hush-Hush Trials
The Hush-Hush Trials

Dennis Davis • May 19, 2019

These are the Hush-Hush trials.

Why am I walking around in bright sunshine everyday yet feeling as though I’m surrounded by darkness? I know that I’m saved and that God loves me but sometimes it feels like the pain that I’m going through is so intense, that not even He can help me get out of it. I still go to church but really, I’m just going through the motions. I still sing but the my songs have no joy. I still smile on the outside yet I’m crying on the inside. I look around and see everyone else proclaiming that God blessed them with a new job or gave them a wife or did something miraculous. But Father God, where’s my miracle? Where is my breakthrough? Where is my deliverance from these trials that make me feel condemned to suffer? Where is my deliverance from these storms that threaten to turn my boat over and drown me in life’s turbulent seas?



These are the Hush-Hush trials.



Trials that are so heavy and burdensome that sometimes we feel as though we will lose hold of our own minds. These are the trials that even children of God will face from time to time. Burdens so heavy that its hard to get out of the bed in the morning.



These are the Hush-Hush trials.



Trials that so many of us go through yet never let anyone else know. What we don’t show, they won’t know. So I’ll keep Amening and smiling and acting like its alright while everyday it feels like another piece of me is slowly dying inside.



These are the Hush-Hush trials.


Feelings of being lonely, trapped, nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide, nowhere to escape! In utter desperation, late at night when no one else is looking, I fall to the floor and cry out once again to God. “Father God, please, please help me through this!”



Suddenly, through my tears I hear a voice say, “Remember Paul.” I’m so miserable that I can’t think about the Bible right now. What in the world does Paul have to do with my pain?



I continue to cry but part of my mind begins to wander to thoughts of Paul. What was that the Pastor was talking about a few weeks back? Didn’t Paul go through some kind of trial?



I reach for my Bible and begin to search the pages. Tears dripping down and staining page after page until I find what I was looking for:



2 Corinthians 12:9 

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.



That’s it! Paul was dealing with a trial of his own that was just as painful as mine and he pleaded with God to remove it just like I’ve been doing! But God told him that His grace was sufficient. If His grace was good enough for Paul then doesn’t it mean that its good enough for me? He said that His strength is made perfect in weakness. Oh God, you know that I’m feeling weak right now, you know that I’m feeling down and out. Please touch my heart right now, right here on this floor.



All of a sudden, the words exploded in my head. My grace is sufficient and My strength is made perfect in weakness. God’s grace comes alive when we realize that it is the undeserved favor of God. In our trials, God will show favor to us as we go through; even when we can’t feel Him, He is still right there by our side. But when you recognize that His strength means absolute and unlimited power, that means that no matter how bad my situation may be, my Father’s power will be able to overcome! And so, even when we go through our Hush-Hush trials, we still reach out to God and when we do, His power will rest on us to give us the peace to be in the storm and the strength to go through the storm and come out on the other side.



And so, even in my Hush-Hush trials, I will not give up and I will not give in. I will call on the Lord to be my strength and to be my song. I will call on God to be my strength and my shield. I will call on my Father in Heaven to be my dwelling place and refuge.



I will thank God for my Hush-Hush trial and will pray, sing, shout and dance that trial away.



Are you experiencing a Hush-Hush trial today? If so, reach out to God who is the only One that can reach into your darkness and pull you back into the marvelous light.

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Why So Many Arguments About Law and Grace?
Why So Many Arguments About Law and Grace?

Dennis Davis • March 27, 2019




The conversation about the God’s law and God’s grace has been raging since the 1st century. It almost feels as if there’s a battlefield with two armies: the Law army and the Grace army and both are constantly fighting. But when I read my Bible, I’m led to understand that there is no controversy in God but only bad understanding. Let’s try to get a better understanding of this controversial topic so it can help many of us who may not have had good teaching on the subject.


OK, so let’s look at the argument: On the Grace side, you’ll hear people say that “Salvation is by grace and grace alone.” The Law side people will say, “Oh here we go. That idea leads to lawlessness and people doing whatever they want. God’s righteous standard in the law has to be upheld.” And, every now and then, someone else will come sneaking into the conversation and say, “Sure Salvation is by Grace, but Grace is only for those who obey God’s Law.” So why are there all of these different opinions? It all comes down to how we view Salvation versus how God outlines Salvation in the Bible. 


Although we will save a detailed explanation of salvation for a later article, it makes sense to give a definition and talk a little bit about it.


Definition:


The transformation of a person’s individual nature and relationship with God as a result of repentance and faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. All humanity stands in need of salvation, which is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Salvation is all God’s doing

Romans 5:6–8 AV

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 1:7 AV

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Titus 1:15–16 AV

15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

 

Ro 5:6–8; Eph 1:7; 1 Ti 1:15–16

See also Ex 33:19; Ac 4:12; Ac 20:24; Ro 5:15–17; 2 Co 6:2; Col 1:13–14; 2 Th 2:16; Tt 2:11; Heb 7:23–25; Re 7:10


There is nothing human beings can do to save themselves

Titus 3:4–7 AV

4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

See also Lk 18:9–14; Ro 11:5–6


Salvation is not by keeping God’s law

Galatians 5:4 AV

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

See also Ro 5:20–21; Ro 6:14; Ro 8:1–4; Ga 2:21; Ga 3:17–18; 1 Ti 1:9


Salvation must be accepted as a free gift by faith

Ephesians 2:4–9 AV

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

See also Ac 15:7–11; Ac 16:30–31; Ro 3:21–24; Ro 4:14–16; Ro 5:1–2; Heb 4:16


Keep coming back to read part 2 of this excellent discussion on Law and Grace

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