May 29, 2020
Without Repentance There is No Peace
Brothers and friends, do you want to experience the peace that Christ gives? There is only one way to live and obtain that peace and that is through the repentance of a sincere heart. God forgives the one who genuinely repents with all his heart.
Proverbs 28:13 says, “Jehovah's fear is to hate evil; pride and arrogance, evil ways, and a wicked mouth, I hate.” The T. L.A. version reads, “Those who obey God hate evil. I hate people who are proud and conceited, who never tell the truth or live properly.”
This verse brings to mind David's sin of adultery with Bathsheba and his struggle to cover up his sin. Such an attitude has no future. It will not prosper. Only the prayer of confession will benefit. Abandonment of sin must be added alongside confession and this can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit who rebukes us and prompts us to confess.
There are two things I want to emphasize here:
- The one who covers up their sin will suffer the consequences. "The wages of sin is . . . death."
- The one who confesses and abandons their sin will experience the joy and peace of being forgiven.
These two fundamental truths related to our relationship with God show us the way to joy and peace in our lives. It is how we receive the merciful and divine PEACE that surpasses all understanding.
Do you want such peace? Admit, repent and acquire.
Blessings, IN HIM!
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
May 28, 2020
As I sat in the sound booth Sunday with computer parts scattered on the ground and sweat dripping from my forehead, I felt like I had reached my limit. I had worked all week to get things just right. Hours were spent by our worship leaders, singers, band, technical crew, and myself trying to make sure everything went perfect. Within 10 minutes of walking in the door Sunday I knew that was not going to be the case. Everything I touched broke, and everything I tried to fix compounded the problem. The world was caving in and the frustration and pressure in the room was palpable. My second week on the job and everything was falling apart. Then I stopped. I stopped trying to fix something that was never going to be fixed. I stopped the anger and frustration that was building up inside of me. I stopped the thoughts of failure and unworthiness that the enemy was sneaking in. I just stopped and leaned on God, and there it was...peace. The peace that comes from a source that can overpower any of my insecurities,
“the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, (that) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Phil. 4:7 NIV)
Looking back over the last few days it seems silly that I was overwhelmed by such seemingly small things, but that is how it happens. That is how the enemy attacks us and distracts us from who God says we are. Jim talked about replacing our complaining with gratitude this past week and it could not have come at a better time. In this time of change it is easy to let the fear and anxiety of real problems turn in to complaining and an attitude of ungratefulness. I fall in to it constantly. That is not who we are called to be though. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says this,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
We can complain about the temporary or we can be grateful for the eternal reward we have been promised in Jesus Christ! Let’s be that Church; a Church that looks and sounds grateful, a Church that keeps our “eyes on the prize.” a Church that shows faith and hope in what the world sees as hopeless, and a Church that leans on the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Love you guys!!
Make good decisions,
May 27, 2020
It's Going to be Okay
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. He says, "Be still, and know that I am God…" Psalm 46:1, 10a
We were a very active family. Besides the packed school days, our three kids were active in sports, band, extra-curricular sports, and lots of church activities. Our family was doing great. No dramatic crisis among us or our extended family. The work of the church and relationships with the church family were healthy, upbeat, and vibrant. Yet, in me personally, there seemed to be some issues developing which I could not explain. I began experiencing very low physical energy, a lack of concentration and motivation. Every morning it was a struggle to get out of bed and get going for the day. The work of the church was unimportant to me. I was going through the motions.
I knew I needed to see my doctor. So I set up an appointment with my good friend, Dr. Russell Mayo. When we met, Russell asked lots of questions about home, family, work, spiritual walk, exercise, burdens, etc. He was extremely thorough and set up blood tests, etc. for me. After our first visit, I was sure it was cancer, but Russell did not allude to that being the issue. A couple of visits later nothing had changed for me and Russell was more puzzled because all my lab reports came back good. In that visit, Russell looked at me with a forlorn look and said, “Ron, I can’t figure out what is going on with you but we will keep a watch on you.” And being a good friend, I knew Russell would do exactly that.
What I want to tell you happened after that visit. How long after that visit I don’t know. But one night, I know I was sleeping soundly and I heard a voice. And that voice said, “everything’s going to be okay.” In that dark moment, a peace, and calm came over me. When I awoke in the morning the lack of energy, the lack of drive was gone. I was excited about the new day and the challenges ahead of me. I knew that God had reassured me of His perfect presence and His grace-filled peace for me. May each of us draw near to the Father and listen for His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12) because He loves us!
Let the joy of the Lord be your strength!
May 22, 2020
Grace Vs. Religion
Jesus said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost." Luke 19:10
This statement recorded by Luke after Jesus meets Zacchaeus, is practically the summary of the spirit of the Gospel according to Luke. It can even be said, that this is one of the most important texts, in the entire New Testament. Jesus redefines himself as the Son of Man and states His mission in two words.
He has come to seek (zetéo) and to save (sózo) what had been lost…” The "lost" are his own people Israel and the despised Gentiles.
Zacchaeus personifies that sheep, that coin, and the lost son. He also shows something of the widow's insistence, the humbleness of the tax collector, the receptivity of a child, the dispossession of a rich man, and a beggar's need for mercy.
I believe that we can all identify with this because we were there at one point in our life. However, if you are still at that point, God has a solution you. It is called Grace given by Jesus Christ ...
While there is a party at Zacchaeus' house for the celebration of his redemption and the realization of the kingdom of God, religious outsiders do not understand how it is possible for Jesus to mix with such people. Inside the house the joy of finding what is lost is celebrated. Outside the onlookers are proud and defiant even though the Kingdom is what they too are searching for.
Christians identify with Zacchaeus because we too have given up our selfish way of life and have accepted the grace granted by Jesus Christ. It is written that He "came to seek and save what was lost ..."
And this is the main point: God gives "righteous" and lost sinners second chances.
Do you want to ask Jesus to give you a new life like he did for Zacchaeus? God is the God of second chances.
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
May 21, 2020
As I was contemplating the message this week of the prodigal son and the idea that God gives second (and third, and fourth…) chances to both the rebellious and the self-righteous, I couldn’t help but think of how many times that has shown true in my life. How many times I had rebelled in my self-righteousness (that seems even worse), and how many times, as I returned to God, He was there with open arms to correct and heal me. I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
God knows us and He knows the temptations that this world has to offer and He is faithful even when we are not. That’s good news! I have been working through a series with the students called a “Faith Future” which digs into Hebrews 11. It is a great reminder of those who came before us to kept their eyes on the ultimate reward promised by God rather than focusing on their “new normal”. This week we covered Abraham and Sarah and their faithfulness to go and to trust God, and His giving them their son Isaac. Hebrews 11:11, “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise" (NIV). Even Sarah? Why did we have to include the "even" there? That word is a reminder that Sarah had not always “considered him faithful who had made the promise” she doubted God and His promises and gave into the temptation of giving Abraham a child through other means. But God is faithful! He does keep His promises! As 1 Corinthians tells us “he will also provide a way out,” but we have to accept it and return to Him in repentance. Sarah made a mistake but returned to God and He welcomed her with open arms and remained faithful.
This is my story and I hope it is yours as well, we are never too far gone to return to Him and He is always faithful. Love you guys!
Make Good Decisions,
May 20, 2020
God’s Word… Lost
Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” (Amplified Bible)
Pam and I had been married only about a month. I was leading the music and working with the youth where my dad was the pastor, Green Hills Baptist Church of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. One Wednesday evening after our youth group worship, I got to wrestling with some of the guys on the church lawn. After a few twists and turns and pins to the ground I looked at my left hand. My wedding ring was gone!
I yelled, “stop, my wedding ring is gone.” I saw my life flash before my eyes. Amazing how quickly something so shiny and new seems to become buried in St. Augustine grass. At that point, the treasure hunt began on the church lawn. I recall that Pam was in the crowd watching the hunt go on. Fortunately, we found the ring and the fact that today I can testify of that experience tells you my life was spared.
Amazing how quickly we can misplace or even lose something that we would call “of great value” to us. But think about how we lose connection with God’s Word. And yet we agree one-hundred per cent with Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” (Amplified Bible). Yet we get caught up with activities, schedules, responsibilities and our treasuring and storing God’s Word gets lost….gets buried in our day to day hurriedness.
So this is my prayer for each of us. May every heartbeat remind us how precious we are to the Father and may His Word never become “lost” in our daily life.
May 19, 2020
"When God Ran"
So he got up and went to his father. . .“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15: 20-24
My favorite part of the Parable of the Prodigal Son is what happens when the lost son returns home. It’s the twist in the story that no one could possibly see coming. When the father sees his son coming, he had compassion on him and he unashamedly ran to him and hugged him and kissed him. In ancient Jewish culture, it was unthinkable that the patriarch of a Hebrew family - a man of wealth and position - would ever “run.” He would have a worn full length outer and inner garments and the only way to run would be to pick up his robes like a modern woman would have to do to run in a formal dress.
Those hearing this story for the first time would have been thinking, “Hold on... the father did what?” And he runs to him - undignified without reservation or hesitation and hugs and kisses him. He’s overjoyed that he’s home. And we’re all prodigals at one time or the other. Know this, that when you are lost, you are that still loved by the Father. Nothing you could do would ever change that fact. Because it’s the nature of our heavenly Father to love irrepressibly and unconditionally.
And know this as well. When you or I “come to our senses” and turn or return to the heavenly Father - He runs to meet us. When we come to Him, or come back to Him, our Father doesn’t pause, or hesitate, or make demands. He doesn’t set conditions or bring up our past failures. His heart is full of love and compassion for us. He rushes to meet us. He welcomes us home with open arms and a loving heart.
And in the story, he does something else unexpected. He doesn’t let his son finish his rehearsed speech. He interrupts him to say that he is not just going to let him come home, but that he’s going welcome him home with the full privileges as his son.
Now the father could have disowned his son, or had him beaten, or worse. But instead, he orders that the best robe be put on him as well as a ring and sandals. The best robe would belong to the father himself. The ring would be a signet ring used for transactions with the family business and give him access to the family fortune.
In that time, slaves were barefoot. Those who wore shoes were free. His son had lost, or sold, or had his shoes stolen. He’s humiliated. And he says, “Get my son some shoes. He’s home, not as a servant, but as my son. Let’s throw a party for him and welcome him home.”
And remember the father represents God and we’re like this prodigal son. We sin and rebel and ruin our life and we choose a road that God never intended
for us. But trust this - It’s never too late to go home to the Father and receive grace. All it takes is a moment of clarity where we come to our senses, repent, and turn back to the Father and come home. And He runs to meet us. He embraces us, blesses us, kisses us, and celebrates our return. He gives us a robe and a ring and new shoes - all things we don’t deserve because that’s what grace is all about.
This is the kind of Father we have. I John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Salvation is an undeserved gift given to a bunch of rebels who choose against God’s plan, but who now have come home.
It’s time to come home.
May 18, 2020
"Lost and Found"
I remember one year at Youth camp, I went exploring with two friends outside the camp boundaries. We got separated and I got lost. I got really lost. The more I tried to find my way back, the more lost I became. I’ll never forget when my friends found me. My panic turned to peace almost instantly.
Jesus came looking for lost people too. He described his mission in seven words.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a story, a parable, about lostness and being found. It’s about a good father and his two lost, wayward sons. And one son is a rebel in his lifestyle and the other sins inside his heart - they both go astray and they both get a second chance. This is not just one of the most well-known stories in the Bible, but it’s ultimately our story.
And the father represents God the father and the sons represent you and I and how we sin against the Father. Some of us get lost primarily in our actions and some get lost primarily in our hearts. But it’s all sin and it separates us from our Father. And we all need grace... we need His forgiveness and love. As we read this parable keep this big idea in mind no matter what you have done God gives second chances to both rebellious and self-righteous sinners.
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and to offer grace and mercy and a new beginning to everyone. Multitudes came to Jesus from all walks of life. Lepers were made whole, the lame were healed, and the blind received their sight. Even the dead were raised to life! And Jesus will take your broken dreams and your lostness and he will forgive your sin, give you new hope, and a new life.
May 15, 2020
to deal with discouragement"
We have all experienced discouragement, right?
So much so, that scripture has many verses about overcoming discouragement.
Let us look at what God teaches us in His Word through the apostle Paul ...
2 Corinthians 4: 8-9. 8. that we are troubled in everything, but not distressed; in trouble, but not desperate; 9. persecuted, but not helpless; shot down, but not destroyed ...; ”
Here are four paradoxes that Paul paints of the Christian life. Through this, we can see how God helps us even in the most difficult circumstances.
(1) "Troubled... but not distressed." The idea here is that the circumstances that surround us can oppress or attack us; This pressure has become part of modern life, but it has always been part of Christ-centered life, service, and ministry.
We cannot avoid occasions when it seems that everything crumbles around us and we feel like we can't handle it. But here Paul assures us that even though we are in a difficult time, there is no need to worry. In other words, we have an outlet, the one that God Himself will provide.
(2) "Perplexed, but not desperate." Some have translated this phrase as follows: "Confused, but not confused." This deals with situations in which the servant of Christ is in trouble and does not know what to do. He has to depend on God fully to give him the necessary direction to get ahead in his life and in his ministry.
(3) "Persecuted, but not abandoned." It is well known that the Apostles went through many dangers; Many attempts were made against Paul's life. He was haunted by his enemies, persecuted by Satan, and overwhelmed by many problems. But God had a plan and purpose for him, and despite what Paul suffered, God had him in his hand and did not allow him to be silenced until he fulfilled his purpose.
(4) "Downcast, but not destroyed." Here the figure of boxing can be used when a fighter receives so many blows that he falls to the mat, but he does not stop there. He gets up and fights again until he wins.
So, it is with the servant of God; He may fall into discouragement, but with the help of God, he rises again to continue with the ministry that was given to him. The servant of Christ may lose a contest, but he knows that the battle continues and in the end, he will win and victory will come.
Christ helps us overcome discouragement when we feel most dejected.
Blessings, IN HIM!
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
May 14, 2020
Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
In Deuteronomy 31, we see the aged Moses letting the Israelites know that Joshua was going to be responsible for their well-being in the days ahead. Moses wanted to make sure that the people understood that God was always faithful and would continue to be faithful to them even in times of change.
From Deuteronomy 31:8, we have four biblical truths to proclaim in the battle when discouragement tries to swallow you alive:
His Presence is Present. The verse says, “The Lord himself goes before you.” In my teen years, I worked for Arlie Carter. A very Godly man who over one summer was my friend and my “go to” person for Godly wisdom and counsel. So give praise to God for those who have walked with you through your life experiences. Those individuals who have “been there” in your times of need because the Father always provides for us, His children.
His Presence is Personal. The verse says, “Will be with you…” We know each person has their own DNA and aren’t you glad that God, the creator, is your personal DNA Master. No one and I mean no one, anywhere knows you better than God the Father. And He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins and gave us the Holy Spirit to abide within us. Rejoice in the fact that God is delighted to fellowship with you every day.
He Never Leave Us. The verse says, “He will never leave you…” Have you ever been left behind by a family member or friend? When our three kids were small, we always took two cars to church because our Sunday schedules were different. One Sunday after church we get home and notice that Josh (first grader) was not with us. I jump in the car and arrive at the church and there’s Josh waiting with a friend. Refresh your heart with the fact that God never leaves you. Sing the chorus, “No, never alone, No, never alone He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone; No, never alone, No, never alone He promised never to leave me, Never to leave me alone.”
He Never Forsakes Us. The verse says, “He never forsakes you…” To forsake means “abandon, desert, forsake means to leave without intending to return. Abandon suggests that the thing or person left may be helpless without protection.” How did you learn to swim? I was tossed in the pool with my dad instructing me from the side. Even though I was gasping for air my dad never abandoned me. Thank your Heavenly Father that He never abandons you.
Fear and Discouragement are the results if we don’t live out the first four truths of Deuteronomy 31:8. Sing this song, “All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.”
Stay Healthy and Stay Joyful in the Lord!
May 13, 2020
The Beauty of Cracked Pots
II Corinthians 4:7-10
One of the keys to overcoming discouragement is ask God to help you see your situation differently. More specifically, ask Him to show you how you can shine for Christ through your limitations and tribulations. Because we all have limitations and tribulations - we have more opportunities to shine.
Paul says... II Cor. 4:7-10 7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, the love and the grace of God in Christ inside us... bright and powerful… but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. Like well-used clay pots, we’ve all been dropped a few times. We’re not much to look at - fragile, flawed, and falling apart.
Get the picture? We’re filled with power and grace on the inside and cracked on the outside. We’re increasing on the inside and decreasing on the outside. Why is that? We see it in the last part of verse 7: … this makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. This is our purpose... to glorify God.
Have you ever noticed how God often puts his greatest gifts in the weakest people? An ancient document describes the Apostle Paul as bald-headed, bow-legged, barely five-foot-tall, and with a crooked nose. Scripture tells us he had a disability, a thorn in the flesh, that God did not remove from him. And yet this is the person that God used to take the Gospel around the world.
So instead of becoming frustrated with your limitations, try to see them as opportunities for God to shine through you. God uses imperfect people like you and me to do great things for him.
But God also wants to shine through your tribulation. Paul says.. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. (not finished... not giving up) We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. (not throwing in the towel) 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Like Rocky in a boxing match with Apollo Creed, we keep getting knocked down, but we keep getting back up. Paul kept getting thrown into jail, beaten up, and shipwrecked, yet he continued moving forward. It’s not that we are strong - we’re just cracked pots. It is the power within us that turns our limitations and tribulations into treasure.
See you tonight at 6:00 p.m. on Facebook or YouTube.
May 12, 2020
God’s Irrepressible Love for You
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:39 (MSG)
Whenever difficult times and adversity come - when you become weary and discouraged and lose your way - there is one thing you must do. There is one first step that leads back to a pathway of joy.
You must remember how much God loves you! Not the world - YOU! You have to keep that constantly in focus. His grace and love and mercy and kindness for you is an unshakable foundation.
Now of course you know that God loves you. You’ve probably heard it all your life. You know it, but do you really believe it? Do you feel His love for you? Do you sense His mercy, do you live in the awareness of His grace and His kindness to you?
We remember God’s mercy and His grace in choosing us and in using us. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. It’s all a wonderful gift from our loving heavenly Father; this life, this forgiveness, and this ministry.
Mercy is when God knows every mistake I’ll make in life my life and and yet he still gave me life - that’s mercy. That God knows every sin I’ll commit in my life and yet he still loves me. That’s mercy.
You and I have an enemy who whispers and sometimes shouts to you - “God doesn’t really love you. You’re too messed up for Him to love you. You’ve failed - you’ve disappointed Him too many times for Him to show you mercy. Who are you kidding? Who do you think you are?”
And it’s all lies. God from deep within Himself--by his nature loves you unconditionally, irrationally, and unpredictably. And you have to stop trying to earn His love. Let Him love you as you are, as only He can. And then you know that you can keep going, no matter what.
See you Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.
May 11, 2020
in the Towel
Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heat so sad? Psalm 42:5
Discouragement saps people of energy. It causes people to stop trying, to stop caring and quit believing. And the Bible says a lot about how to deal with discouragement. It’s a very honest book and it shows how almost every hero in the Bible struggled with seasons of discouragement.
One of the clearest examples is David. He wrote entire chapters in the book of Psalms lamenting and crying out to God. In Psalm 42:5 he says, “Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?" Then he recalculates, he course corrects and shifts his thinking. “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God.”
David models for us the one thing you MUST do when you feel discouraged--you need to change your perspective:
- You need to change your thoughts.
- You need to change your focus.
- You need to change you mind.
So before you throw in the towel, change your focus. Ask God to bring good out of difficulty. Ask Him to make you stronger out of adversity. Remember that no matter how bad things are, God loved you so much He sent Jesus to die for you. Remember it’s always too soon to quit
How to Pray to the Heart of God
And I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and Keep his commandments. Daniel 9:4
Daniel was a man of prayer. For him, prayer was neither the last resort nor an outlet for his difficulties; on the contrary, it was the course of his strength, the evidence of God's presence with him.
That is why he uses an incredibly unique was to pray to the heart of God; he says, "I confessed...." Confession must be started with the exaltation of God. "And I prayed to the Lord my God..."
The confession of sin and the recognition of personal shame are essential elements in prayer that comes from the repentant heart. It is impossible to stay on the sidelines of life, just looking.
Confession is made on the basis of personal knowledge and not on some vague or remote possibility. Daniel teaches us how vital confession is so that we may acknowledge our sin, manifest a spiritual maturity, and at the same time intercede for others. Let us see how Daniel emphasized this idea...
5 We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even
turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. 6 We
have not listened to Your servants the prophets who spoke in Your name to our
kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land...8 Open
shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, our parents, because we
sin against You…10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our
God, to walk in His teachings that He set before us through His servants the
prophets…18 O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes
and see our desolation and the city which is called by Your; for we are not
presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own,
but on account of Your great compassion. Daniel 9: 5-6,8,10;18
Confession is made on the basis of personal knowledge and not
on some vague or remote possibility. Daniel teaches us how vital confession is
so that we may acknowledge our sin, manifest a spiritual maturity, and at the
same time intercede for others. Let us see how Daniel emphasized this idea...
After acknowledging the guilt, admitting it, and confessing it, we experience the gratitude that comes as a result of the confession. Daniel knew that this is the way to pray to the heart of God.
LET US CONFESS. Repent. And just like that, God will hear from Heaven and will forgive our sins and heal our land.
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
May 7, 2020
National Day of Prayer
to nationaldayofprayer.org, "The National Day
of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting
people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint
resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President
Harry S. Truman.
Verses to Focus on through the Day
If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by My Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:19-20
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
- Pray for Steadfast Leaders - Father God, everyone who is in a position of serving others can easily feel overwhelmed with burdens and events happening in their country and worldwide. Strengthen each leader with resolve to do what is best for their country.
- Pray for Those Who Are Ill with COVID-19 - Father God, You are the ultimate Healer. We come before You to pray for those infected with this virus. We ask for not only their healing but for comfort while they heal.
- Pray for Those Treating the Sick - Father, we come to pray for those who are caring for the sick. It takes a kind and selfless heart to care for those who are sick. We pray that You would be their source of rest, replenishment when weary, and their source of hope in such overwhelming times.
- Pray for Those Facing Job Loss - Lord, you are the God who Provides. Help those who have lost their jobs to trust in You as they look for new work. Lead each person to the right job.
- Pray for One Another, the Oak View Family - Dear Heavenly Father, provide for us courage and strength in this time. Lead us to stand strong in our convictions. Guide us to be bold in our witness. Provide resources so we can help provide for the physical and spiritual needs of our community. May our daily walk with You be a demonstration of hope and healing.
Proclaim His Amazing Grace!
Source: A Prayer Guide for National Day of Prayer 2020. www.crosswalk.com
May 6, 2020
A National Day of Repentance
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. II Chron. 7:14 NLT
Thursday in the 32nd public observance of the National Day of Prayer. You can download a prayer guide here. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to pray for America and our leaders. Ask God to heal our nation physically and spiritually and to use this Covid-19 crisis to lead our nation to a revival.
Daniel prayed for his nation this way:
“O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. Daniel 9:18
God responds to Daniel’s prayer by telling him through the angel Gabriel that “...you are very precious to God.” And He assures him that the promises will be fulfilled and his people will be preserved.
Notice in II Chronicles 7:14 the conditions and the promises God makes to His people when they pray. God asks for four things and makes four promises.
If they will . .
- humble themselves
- and pray
- and seek my face
- and turn from their wicked ways,
then, I will
- hear from heaven,
- and forgive their sin
- and heal their land.
What a powerful promise. Healing hearts, minds, and bodies. Healing in your finances, relationships, and from your fears. Healing in our government and our families.
If my people will pray...Will you?
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Listening Before Speaking
pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more
understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what
they think they understand will be taken away from them.” Luke 8:18 NLT
One of the keys to praying in a crisis is to let God speak to us before we speak to Him. Our tendency is to do just the opposite. It requires discipline to wait, even for a few minutes, when we have an urgent prayer request driving us to prayer.
God is always at work, even if we can’t see Him. God always initiates and we respond. God always makes the first move in your life. He loved us long before we ever loved Him. He sent Jesus to die on the cross long before we were born. Every gift we have came from Him--the air we breathe, our life, our body, and our mind. Because He always initiates God never asks you to do something He hasn’t already done for you.
How do we hear God speak to us? By reading God’s Word. The Bible is both God’s love letter to us and His instruction manual for a blessed life. Scripture reminds us of God’s promises to us. We can never pray effectively or confidently until we are regularly reading and meditating on God’s Word.
Daniel, one of the great heroes of the Old Testament, had a practice of praying to God three times a day. He did that his whole life and it changed his entire life and destiny.
Do you think your life would be different if you had a conversation with God three times a day for your entire life? What if you just took a few moments at the end of the day to read a scripture, listen to God, and then take a minute or two to talk to Him? What if that became a habit?
What if you paused during the day and just prayed...
- Lord what do you want me to do?
- Where do you want me go?
- Who do you want me to bless?
- Help me. Guide me.
Would you do that right now? You’ll be stronger, more confident, and less afraid if you do.
May 1, 2020
Living in His Promises!
After a storm, how many of you are looking for a rainbow? I am one who always looks for the rainbow. Years ago we had had a pretty strong thunderstorm move through our area. As the storm moved eastward, the clouds began to break and the sunshine began to sparkle on the puddles of rainwater. The lawns had a glistening effect because of the lingering moisture. I was walking down our street headed back to the house when I saw Amy, who was probably 10 years of age at the time, looking up into the sky behind me. She pointed to the sky and yelled with enthusiasm, “Daddy, look at the rainbow!” I turned and the colors of the rainbow were spectacular. It was a "wow" moment for both of us. We were experiencing His Promises at that very moment.
We live in His Promises because God is faithful. During this time when our routines have been greatly disrupted, let His Word be the source of your strength.
Here are two scriptures to meditate on through these days.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. Isaiah 40:28
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome… Deuteronomy 10:17
Stay Healthy and Stay Joyful in the Lord!
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
"Tests are to bless our lives"
2 Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.
Saying this phrase, "The tests are to bless our lives," sounds easy and quite simple, but somehow it is exceedingly difficult to apply. But someone commented, "Correctly faced, tests are enriching, and incorrectly faced, tests can be very harmful and painful."
The tests come to us without warning, and because they come to us like that, we can't do anything to avoid them. According to James 1:2-4, we cannot avoid tests, but one thing we must do is learn to deal with them. Our human character is always being tested, particularly in the moments when we feel very sure of ourselves.
Faced with the diverse and inevitable tests, God's word gives us three applications.
The first application is that we should consider trials with great joy. The Bible does not say that we should consider them with joy or with some joy but with the “utmost" joy, that is, with full, complete, whole joy.
The second application is that trials produce endurance in us. Just as gold is "tested" in fire and the "tested part" is the remaining purified gold, so also, our faith, when it is proved by tests, produces a residue, a proven part, which is what produces endurance.
The third application regarding trials is that they lead to perfection. When endurance has its perfect result, the servant of Christ becomes complete and perfect.
Every mature disciple must long for Christ-centered perfection. We must desire to be complete in doctrine, adorned with the manifold fruit of the Holy Spirit, possessors of all virtue and of all the excellence of the mind of Christ, and to practice love without distinction toward all people.
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
The Father’s Handprint
For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. Psalm 92:4
It was July 5, 2017, Pam and I were living in Texarkana. We received a call from our son-in-law that Amy was in labor and about to deliver Laken. Three hours later we arrive at the hospital in Lewisville. We walked into Amy’s room and could feel the emotional pain and brokenness from everyone in her room. The doctor had just left Amy’s room and said that Laken’s chances of surviving were very slim. Laken was born at 29 weeks and was immediately rushed to the NICU in the hospital. Her early arrival was not the issue. The greater danger was an extreme infection in her blood system. Since Amy’s blood work was all normal, how the infection got there was a mystery to the staff. Our hearts were broken and there was no way to console one another because the hurt pierced to the very depths of our souls. We weren’t trying to make sense of it but we were all just in shock. So the praying and waiting began. In my devotional I came to Psalm 92:4 which says, “For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” When I read that verse I wasn’t feeling glad or joyful. I had my agenda and I wanted God to fulfill my wishes…the “deeds” that were important to me. I wanted Laken to be perfectly healthy.
In those moments of questioning God, He took charge of my heart and my thoughts. I began to see the hand print of God upon Laken's life and the lives of our family. Yes, we continued to shed tears and have many anxious moments but Laken grew stronger and finally got to go home. We all experienced God’s powerful presence recognizing He is always sufficient to meet every need.
Stay healthy and stay joyful in the Lord!
April 27, 2020
“The Joseph Miracle”
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
The story of Joseph is one of the most amazing demonstrations of how God works all things together for our good if we are committed to Him. Only God sees the past, present and future at the same time. Only God knows that my life can be a blessing to others and how my life will be affected by the choices of those around me. And only God can bring the best out of the worst of my life. Not just in the short term, but for now and forever.
This is the miracle of Joseph. This is the miracle God offers to all of us. Time after time Joseph could have given up on God’s plan for His life. He could quit in the pit, or when he was sold as a slave, or framed for what he refused to do, or forgotten as a prisoner. There were not just moments of difficulty, but months of desperation. But Joseph held on to God’s promise, the only reliable source of hope in this hope-less world.
And this miracle happened--this merging of Joseph’s faith in God’s promise and God’s bringing the best out of the worst in Joseph’s life. He goes from being family-less to having two families: reconciled to his brothers and blessed in Egypt with a wife and two sons. He’s transformed from powerless to powerful, from slave to free, and from survivor to the savior of his people. By saving his brother Judah, he preserved the lineage of the Savior of the World.
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar… Matthew 1:1-3
Look back over your life. There are so many details, small decisions, and seemingly chance happenings. If those things hadn’t been held together by God’s plan, God’s promises, and the prayers of others, you wouldn’t be here. You are not here by accident. All the decisions before this moment brought you to this moment, so you would know how much He cares about you. He has a plan for you and He will redeem your past into a brilliant future. That’s your miracle.
Keep renewing your mind!
Pastor Jim & Tashia
Friday, April 22, 2020
"Everything (including the pandemic) works for good"
And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, that is, those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
The apostle Paul affirmed that God, Who interprets the groans of the Spirit in hearts, also works in all circumstances of life for the good of the persons who show that they love Him. The expression “we know” indicates that Paul mentions something that is generally recognized as true, but in his case, it is something that he has already experienced in his own life. Like Joseph, in the Old Testament.
As many of us know, Joseph’s story had a spectacular end. He was graced by God and by Pharaoh for his faithfulness and loyalty, despite the adversities that he endured.
The phrase “all things work together for good” implies that the meaning is not simply that everything will turn out well but that God will make circumstances work for good.
This work of God so that all things result in good is not for everyone but for those who are characterized by two phrases.
- "those who love God..." Cranfield says, "The love for God that is commanded in the Scriptures is nothing less than the response of man with the whole of his being to the previous love of God..."
- “those who are called according to His purpose…” Everything happens, including all the bad things, tends to serve to help us on the path of salvation, confirming our faith and bringing us closer to resembling Jesus Christ ourselves more and more every day. But the reason why all things help the servants of Christ is because God is in control of all things.
The apostle Paul and Joseph are striking examples of what it means to be godly men—men who trust in God and do not care about what God is doing. They have their sights set on the hope that all things are for good and according to God's purpose for their lives.
And what about you? Is God your number one priority instead of the circumstance you find yourself in?
Let God be God. Focus on Him, serve Him, obey Him, and let Him work in you and through you, according to His plan and purpose for your life.
Pastor Rogelio “ROY” Soto
Thursday, April 23, 2020
24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:24-27
Just off I-40 East in Nashville, Tennessee, is Percy Priest Lake. A huge man-made body of water that stretches for about 22 miles. It’s a great recreational lake. I had four students who wanted to go skiing so we launched my dad’s boat and started out across the lake. We were about 15 miles from the dock and having a great time. But looking toward the north, the sky was darkening and the clouds were beginning to hover over the north end of the lake where our boat dock was located. A big storm was on its way and we had a very large body of water to cross to get safely to the boat dock. As the storm intensified we would maneuver the boat back and forth across the lake to avoid the storm cells that were crossing the lake. Finally, as the waves white capped over the front of the boat, we held on and made a mad dash across the open water for the boat dock. We were drenched, cold, and emotionally rattled but we made it!
Even when circumstances suddenly put us in a spin, we are continually amazed at God’s handiwork in our lives. Today may each of us draw closer to the Father and give Him praise.
Stay healthy and stay joyful in the Lord!
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
“Trust and Obey”
19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined." Genesis 39:19-20
Joseph is falsely accused of sexual assault by Potifar’s wife and sentenced to prison for the exact thing he had refused to do. For at least a moment, Joseph must have wanted to throw up his hands and say, “Lord, why do I even try to do what is right? What’s the point?
Here’s the reality: One of the hardest times to do right is when you feel like you’ve been wronged.
- You were faithful to your husband, but he still cheated on you.
- You tithed, but you still lost your job.
- You prayed for your kids all the time, but they still rebelled.
- You were loyal to your company for years, but they still fired you .
At some point we have to learn or relearn this lesson: We’re not to do the right thing because it will get us what we want, we’re to do the right thing because God commands it. His commands are to protect us and to lead us to our best life. It’s not what He wants from us, it’s what He wants for us. And His commands are based on love because He knows what’s best for us. His command comes out of love for us and our obedience comes out of love for Him. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15)
One of my favorite hymns is “Trust and Obey.” The composer of the music, Daniel B. Towner (1850-1919), was inspired by an event that occurred in one of Dwight L. Moody’s famous revivals. He described it this way:
“Mr. Moody was conducting a series of meetings in Brockton, Massachusetts, and I had the pleasure of singing for him there. One night a young man rose in a testimony meeting and said, ‘I am not quite sure—but I am going to trust, and I am going to obey.’ I just jotted that sentence down, and sent it with a little story to the Rev. J. H. Sammis, a Presbyterian minister. He wrote the hymn, and the tune was born.”
Trust and Obey, for their no other way,
To be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.
Keep Renewing Your Mind!
Pastor Jim & Tashia
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
“How Do You See Things?”
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Tashia and I want to thank all of you who sent us congratulations yesterday on our 24th Wedding Anniversary. We went “out to eat” at one of our favorite restaurants. They brought the food to us in the parking lot and we ate it in our car. While the ambiance may have left a lot to be desired, the food and the conversation was brilliant! We decided this was an anniversary that we would never forget.
One of the key biblical truths from Sunday’s message is: “You can’t choose your crisis moments, but you can choose how you respond to them.” Your response is so very important. Joseph could have been bitter for all the pain he endured. He could have gotten stuck in “Why Me?”--wallowing in self-pity and filled with resentment. But he never forgot who he was, nor did he stop depending on God and believing there was purpose in the pain. He possessed this confidence that God was with Him and would work for Him.
When you are in the midst of a dream slipping away--when you are deeply disappointed by what has happened to you--you have only one assignment as a believer. Keep on believing! Keep believing that God is good. That He loves you and wants the best for you. That He can take life’s worst and turn it into something remarkable.
As Paul says in Romans 12:2, it takes constant renewing of our mind to think differently than everyone else.
This reminds me of one of my favorite stories on choosing our response to difficulty.
A wealthy father had twin sons. One was an optimist and the other a pessimist. One year on their 10th birthday he decided to do an experiment. Curious to know what would happen, the father loaded the pessimist son’s room with every game and toy imaginable. The optimist's room he loaded with horse manure.
When the boys returned home, he sent them to their rooms so they could receive their birthday presents. After about 15 minutes the father passed by his pessimist son's room and found him surrounded by his new gifts, angry and upset. “What’s the matter?” asked the father. The son replied, “Why didn’t you get me an XBOX One? I don’t want these toys, they're junk. You never listen to me.” Then he stomped out of the room.
Next, the father went to his optimist son's room. He found him dancing for joy swimming through the manure pile. "What are you so happy about?" asked the father. His son, grinning from ear to ear, said, "You’re such a great dad. With all this manure, I know there is a pony in here somewhere!
Keep renewing your mind!
Pastor Jim & Tashia
April 20, 2020
“Boasting About Tomorrow”
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:13-17
We opened yesterday’s worship service with a little 2 minute video entitled, “What Did You Feed?” It was a powerful reminder that every day we are either feeding our faith of feeding our fear. And you are what you eat. Your spiritual health is affected by what you watch just like your physical health is impacted by what you eat.
I want to ask you to commit to spending 10 minutes a day reading this devotional and asking God to help you apply His Word to your life. This daily feeding will strengthen your faith. It will help you see the world and those around you differently. You’ll know how to respond to changes and find clarity in the midst of confusion.
James reminds us in Chapter 4 that there are so many things in life that are outside our control. Maybe the most frustrating thing for many of us these past several weeks is that we’ve had very little control over our schedule, our plans and our dreams. All of that has been put on hold by something we never saw coming.
But crisis bring clarity. And sometimes it takes a crisis for us to learn the truth that we never had control. And we aren’t invincible. Our lives are fragile. Boasting about what we will do or where we will go is just kidding ourselves. God often allows us to make choices, but He is ultimately in control. His will ultimately prevails. Our power is limited by His.
So instead of boasting about what you will do tomorrow, submit your plans to God’s will. Pray the Lord’s prayer for your life, “…Not my will, but your will be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Pastor Jim & Tashia - Celebrating our 24th Anniversary today!!