Saturday, January 25, 2014

Totally Forgiven

Today’s Bible readings are Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10, Matthew 16:17:9, Psalm 21:1-13, & Proverbs 5:1-6

Genesis 50:14-21
14 After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. 15 But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.
16 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.

The sadness that Joseph felt when his brothers doubted his true forgiveness was enough that it brought him to bitter weeping. His brothers didn’t believe that he could have forgiven them for such a brutal act. Yet, forgiveness is exactly what Joseph extended.

I really think that this is such a perfect picture of what happens in our lives with God. We have made such great mistake that we really struggle with the notion that He could truly forgive us. I have seen people punish themselves for things that God has forgiven them for. I have seen people who never really develop an intimate relationship with Jesus because they don’t think He would desire to have one with a person like them. I want you to know that these are both gross lies from the pit of hell.

There is no person beyond His ability to totally forgive. If the enemy can deceive us into thinking that we are still guilty for past sins, it keeps us in a state of weak faith. In our minds, we think that God doesn’t want to help us because we don’t deserve His help. We lose are right standing. This keeps more people from receiving from God than any other single thing, in my estimation.

Many times, we become like the brothers, we are afraid of God because we think that we deserve to be punished. I want to share a great revelation with you—God punished Jesus instead of you! There was punishment that was owed but the Father chose to punish His Son in your place. The punishment has already been given & accepted. There is no need to punish anybody else.

Isaiah 53:4-6

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we   thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! BUT he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

As they looked at Jesus that day they though He was a man being punished for His many sins. How wrong they were. He was a man being punished for OUR many sins. There is only need for 1 individual to pay the price for the breaking of the law, so long as the judge accepts the payment. God accepted the payment & Jesus was willing to make the deposit. Glory to His name!!!

I want to share with you today that you are forgiven.
1.      Sexual sins
2.      Abortion
3.      Adultery
4.      Stealing
5.      Loss of family
6.      Injury caused to others
7.      Integrity failure
There is nothing, I mean nothing, that is beyond His precious blood to cover. He shed His blood once & for all that the payment of sins would be fully met in Him. Praise His Holy name. Do me a favor –SHOUT “I’M FORGIVEN”.  You are & you need to know it.

Don’t spend any more time wasting away thinking that God is out to punish you the first chance He get. He has no such plan. Get that ugly past under the blood of Calvary’s cross & move on my friend. His blood will never lose it’s power to redeem sinners.

I can only imagine the sorrow that God feelings when his children think the thoughts of Him that Joseph’s brother’s thought of Joseph. Don’t fall into that dangerous ditch. You are a new creature in Christ. You are God’s beloved. There is no charge that any can bring against you because YOU ARE FORGIVEN!!!

Pastor Richard Schlotter

Friday, January 24, 2014

Marking Out A Path

Today’s Bible readings are Genesis 48:1-49:33, Matthew 15:29-16:12, Psalm 20:1-9, & Proverbs 4:20-27

Proverbs 4:25-27
25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. 26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. 27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

Have you ever wondered how we can keep from losing our passion as we run our race? I have. It has really become a focus for me over the last couple of years. I have seen so many people stop running the way they once did. I have also, sadly enough, seen so many stop running all together. It has become a focus of my preaching to encourage people to finish the course.

What does that mean to you—“Finish the course.”? I have learned to appreciate the art of finishing things. I have never had a problem starting things. I can usually find the motivation or inspiration to start something. I have noticed that finishing is much more difficult to do. It requires a greater degree of discipline. That is something that is missing in many lives.

The bible speaks about the life of faith in comparison to a race.

Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Some of you reading this may just be starting your race, many have been running for a good time already. Those of you who have been running awhile know that there are times when it is tempting to stop running. It is also tempting to let up. We cannot afford to make either of these mistakes.

1 Corinthians 9:24

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

It is as though God is telling us to make sure that we are doing are VERY BEST! We must run with all of our heart, soul, mind, & strength. We have to make sure that we have an undivided heart. We do this be keeping our focus. It is like an athlete who is focused on being his very best. He is willing to do what others are not so he can do what other cannot.

I want to share with you some principals that will help you run the race that God has marked out for you. As we discipline ourselves in these areas we will ensure that we finish our race with honor.

1.      Look straight ahead.

There is a lot going on around us. The sidelines & grand stand can really distract an athlete. We must keep our focus where it needs to be. You know where God is calling you. You know the things that need to be done today in order for you to arrive there in the future. GET BUSY THEM!!!

It can be easy to get overwhelmed with what needs to happen 1 week from now, 1 month from now, 1 year from now, etc… What can you do right now where you are? I like to call this “the next right thing”. We don’t need to get so far ahead of ourselves that we neglect doing what needs done most right now.

Looking too far into the future can keep people from doing anything. If they think of all that needs to happen in order for their marriage to turn around it may be more than they can handle. It could also appear to be more than is possible. That is why, for me, I like to just look ahead & do what is before me.

2.      Put together a plan & do it.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a 32 point agenda to get somewhere. But it does mean that we have to have a mark that we are shot for. We must have determined goal that we are working to achieve.

As we begin to strategize in this way we will make progress. Right now, things may really be crazy in your finances, family, etc… but that can & will change as you determine to stay the course & move forward.

Our reading told us to mark out a straight path. I think this is very important. We don’t need to get complicated or make things difficult. Let’s make sure that we don’t spend a ton of time going back around the mountain. Progress is the goal. Forward motion is key.

3.      Practice integrity in your personal life.

It is the little fox that spoils the vine. There is nothing that will knock a person out of the race quicker than guilt. That is why we have to maintain a level of personal integrity that is impeccable. The enemy is always looking for something to bring a charge against us. We can’t make foolish decisions because this gives him ammunition.

That is why we must make sure to practice integrity in every area of our life. It must be in our business life, our dealings with others, sexual purity, etc…  If we purpose to be people of character & integrity we will close many doors that he would try to come in.

I want to remind you that we will miss the mark at times. If you do, repent quickly. Asking God for forgiveness will cleanse you from the feelings of unrighteousness. When you repent know that you are forgiven. His grace is greater than all our sin. Mae sure that guilt is the first weight that you throw off. Your race will be much easier to run without the weight of shame & guilt slowing you down.

God’s love for you is great. Let that love come & lift you. I declare that in Christ you are free from guilt. Live the life that Christ has paid for you to have with His precious blood. He will increase your power by imparting His. Determine to FINISH STRONG!

Pastor Richard Schlotter

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Time For a New Heart

Today's Bible readings are Genesis 46:1-47:31, Matthew 15:1-28, Psalm 19:1-14, & Proverbs 4:14-19

Psalm 19:14
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We see today in our reading in Matthew & in our reading in Psalm, 2 witnesses to the same topic. If why see things in the testimony of 2 witnesses the scripture teaches that it is a truth. I believe that the Spirit is speaking to us today through our readings. I believe that He is asking: "It is time for open heart surgery." 

Jesus made it clear in His teaching this morning in Matthew's gospel that what comes out of a man comes from his heart. He listed things like these:
  1. evil thoughts
  2. murder
  3. adultery
  4. sexual immorality
  5. theft
  6. lying 
  7. slander
He told us that these things come from our heart.  These are usually things that people want to eliminate from their lives. They are things that we can spend a lot of time trying to get rid of. We can work hard to stop doing them but unless we deal with the root of the problem they will resurface. The root of the tree must be destroyed in order to ensure that the fruit on the tree will cease.

We must understand that the real problem is a heart condition. When we let the wrong things fill out hearts we will see those wrong things produce the wrong fruit. Paul said to the Galatians

Galatians 6:7-8
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

There is plenty of opportunity each day to let the wrong things fill our hearts.
  1. Disappointments
  2. Failures
  3. Hurt feelings
  4. Resentment
  5. Revenge seeking
  6. Rehearsing our problems 
  7. Playing the blame game

These are just to name a few. This is the stuff that we are presented each day to fill our minds with. These things, if left unchecked, will sink down into our hearts & develop into attitudes which will lead to behaviors. This affects the way we treat people, respond in given situations, & view daily life. It greatly determines what we believe about ourselves. The issues of our heart matter.

Proverbs 4:23
23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
We must be very intentional about the things that we give place in our heart. Those things can take root before we are even aware of it. There are some things that we just don't need to spend much time thinking about. Then, there are other things that need to be on our heart when we wake up & still be there when we lay down for sleep at night.

I want to share with you a few things that I do to guard my heart.

1. Forgive quickly.

There are so many opportunities each day to get offended. You can't afford to take the bait. When unforgiveness gets into your heart it is an open door for other destructive things to come. Nothing is worth staying upset about. 

Most of the years that I spent pumping drugs into my body was done because I was holding unforgiveness toward somebody. I thought I was hurting them for what they had done to me but I really just hurt myself by hanging on to it. The pain that I had to keep in order to stay mad was the very thing that drove me to use. Forgiveness could have prevented it all.

2. Stay away from people who are doubters & haters.

Jesus said it best today:

Matthew 15:13-14
13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, 14 so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

Pay attention to the people that you let speak into your life. Their words are going straight to your heart. Remember, it was the wrong things being spoken into your life that got you where you are. DON'T LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN!

Surround yourself with people who believe & say about you what God does.

1. You are a new creature.
2. You are God's masterpiece.
3. You are made in His image.
4. You are God's child.
5. God is for you.
6. You can do all things through Christ.
7. You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

These are the things that you want to circulating in your heart & mind. They produce overcoming faith & victory. Refuse to give place to anything else.

 3. Daily surrender to the Spirit's Lordship.

I know, at least in my life, I have to daily give my heart to the Spirit. I have to surrender each day. Many think of surrender as a 1 time event. That has never been the case for me. I have always had a very strong will. I can pick it up if I'm not cautious. Therefore, I daily surrender it.

It is what David realized when he cried:

Psalm 51:10-11
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

This came after a time of great failure but I'm convinced if this would have been his cry each day, as it was in his early years, the failure NEVER would have occurred. Humility truly is the key. Surrender will keep our hearts humble.

Listen to the words of this song by Hillsong:

Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Every Breath I take
Every moment I'm awake
Lord, have Your way in me

I can assure you that if this can become our honest prayer each morning then--the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart WILL BE  pleasing to MY KING.

Pastor Richard Schlotter 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Warriors Arise

Today's Bible readings are Genesis 44:1-45:28, Matthew 14:13-36, Psalm 18:37-50, & Proverbs 4:11-13


Psalm 18:37-38

37 I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. 38 I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet.

What a picture of a warrior in pursuit of those that are out to take his life. I see a fierce soldier determined to finally have freedom over the ones that have been railing & thrashing for so long. There is that moment when a warrior knows that now is the opportunity to finish the work. No more just holding my ground. Today is the day to eliminate them once & for all.

This was common in the days of war. An enemy would come out & draw up their lines. Sometimes they would ambush in the night. Other times they would attack at an unsuspected time. But this time the man of God finally got the upper hand. His enemy was running. This time was different. He had a killer instinct kick in that said, "Finish him." The man of God had put up with the assaults long enough & had realized the only way it was going to end was to conquer them with force.

This is a vivid picture of what needs to happen in our lives. There are many things that the enemy will use to beat us down. We often just let him do his thing. We find a little freedom from the things & settle for it, only to see it return at a later date. It's like the guy who is addicted to porn. He has times where he doesn't view it but then it grabs him out of nowhere. It is like the person who has had a drinking problem that finds moments of sobriety only to return to drinking for no apparent reason. Another example is the woman who manages her emotions for a season & then the meltdowns return. This leaves us in such frustration.

I want you to here from the Lord this morning--"It is time to conquer these enemies once & for all".

David saw the value in pursue what had been pursuing him. He understood that he could never live in peace with these enemies of his. They had to be destroyed.

I struck them down so they could not get up;


There are many things that people try to live with & manage. For instance:
  1. Anger issues
  2. Depression
  3. Worry
  4. Addictions
  5. Fear/resentments
  6. Sexual issues
  7. Past hurts/insecurities
There is no hope in living in peace with any of these things or other things like them. They will always ravage & plunder you if they are allowed to remain. They don't want to be your friend, they want to rule you. They want to destroy you. We must persistently strive to overcome them so they lose all power of us. Regardless of popular opinion you can have TOTAL VICTORY over these in Christ!

I know this to be true. I use to be a addicted to drugs & anything else that could make me feel good. I pumped myself full of anything & everything to help me like myself. When it started to produce problems in my life I realized something needed t change. 
I began to try to find help. I was taught that it would always be a part of me. I was told that I would always be an addict. I bought into that idea for a bit. I had no hope of conquering the addiction, only trying to find a way to live free from it. It only left me struggling again. 
Then I got saved. I got filled with the Holy Spirit. I began to realize that I had power to conquer all things in this life. I began to exercise the power that was in me by faith. I began to break ties with those old things instead of live in peace with them. I MADE WAR!!!
I decided that there was something better that Christ had to offer me. I made up my mind to desire His plans for me. It was then that I set out to destroy the things that had been part of my past for as long as I could remember. Thanks be to God for the freedom that I have found. I have conquered my enemies. I can say with absolute confidence--THEY WILL NEVER A PLACE IN MY LIFE AGAIN!

I challenge you today to make war against the things that have made war against you. Purpose in your heart that you will not just settle for a season of rest form these things. You can have total freedom & total victory in Christ. Don't wait for them to show their ugly face again before yo do something about it. You now what they are. Put them on notice right now. Declare war! No more living with blinders on. Don't wait for them to attack you, attack them!

Remember your weapons:
  1. Belt of truth
  2. Helmet of salvation
  3. Breastplate of righteousness
  4. Shoe of the gospel of peace
  5. Shield of faith 
  6. Sword of the Spirit
  7. Lance of prayer
You are a warrior in Christ! You day of freedom has dawned. Declare it & go get it in Jesus Name!!!

 Pastor Richard Schlotter

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Learning to Trust God

Today's Bible readings are Genesis 42:18-43:34, Matthew 13:47-14:12, Psalm 18:16-36, & Proverbs 4:7-10

Genesis 42:36

36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!

As I read these words I can relate so much to the feelings that come off the pages at me. I hear such distrust & fear. I can sense that there must have been overwhelming, raw emotion at the report that came back to Jacob. Immediately his mind gravitated to the past. It is apparent to me that the pain of losing Joseph was still very much a part of his heart. It still had a great hold on him.

This is all too familiar to many of us. We have experienced loss in the past that is still far too fresh in our memory. Maybe somebody lied to you about something, a spouse had an affair, you found out somebody you trusted was doing something behind your back, or a friend was saying things about you that wasn’t true.

We have all had similar experiences to these take place in our lives. Some people have experienced such distrust that it takes a lot of intentional effort to overcome the effects. In the meantime, that distrust may begin to affect the way that we view God. We may hold back in trusting Him because we have been let down by others in the past. We may refrain from trusting Him because we don’t want to get hurt.

That must have been the case here with Jacob. The wound that he carried in his heart from the tragedy of losing his son was never really recovered from. He carried the hurt all those years. I’m sure that there were those moments when he even blamed himself for what had happened to his son. None the less, he developed trust issues.

What I have noticed to be the pattern of most people is that they are willing to trust God to a certain point then they put the brakes on. I have had this happen in my own life. It usually takes me some time, just like in the case with Jacob, before I notice what is happening & then come to my senses. Some people never reach that point because they never learn steps to take to grow in faith & trust in their Lord.

I want to share with you a few promises FOR THOSE WHO TRUST IN GOD:

·       He will care for those who trust Him.

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

·       He will never forsake those who trust Him.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psa. 9:10).

·   He will guide those who trust Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).

·       He will always be there for those who trust Him.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you” (Psa. 9:10).

·       He will bless those who trust Him.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jer. 17:7).

 I want to talk about some specific things that we can do to build our trust in God. If we focus on doing these simple things we will find in easier to trust Him. As we discipline ourselves we will find that God is VERY TRUSTWORTHY.

1.      Understand that God CANNOT lie.

Titus 1:2-3
This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him.

We all have the ability to lie. We all have the ability to fail. God has neither. He can never lie & He can never fail. I want to point out that it is not because some special rule says He can’t, but rather, HE DOESN’T HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO EITHER.
It’s like slam dunking a basketball. I would love to do it but the ability is just not there. I could NEVER slam dunk a basketball. There is no special rule that forbids me to, the fact that the ability to do it is not in me; same way with God when it comes to lying & failing. Remember God is TRUTH. God is the Almighty One. Nothing is impossible for Him.

2.      Recall God’s past victories.

You are not the first person who has struggled with trust. There have been many who have gone before you who have had greater things before them than you & I. Yet, we see that God came through for them. That is why the Holy Spirit has penned their stories in the Bible. They are to inspire us to trust in God ourselves. As we read their stories it builds great faith in us. Remember that faith comes by hearing & hearing by the Word of God.

3.      Reject discouraging words.

When you are trying to grow in your trust in God, you must guard your heart. Life & death is in the power of the tongue. A word can cut to the heart or it can build up your life. Stay away from people who are going to fill your head with thoughts of distrust. You want to be around people who are going to inspire you to believe even further than you are daring to believe. We need to be stretched. Many people are small minded. They have no dreams & don’t want you to have any either. Avoid them at all cost.

4.      Respond with faith-filled confessions at all times.

Make sure the things that come out of your mouth agrees with what you are trying to accomplish. David was faced with a great challenge when he went out to fight Goliath. There was a lot that happened along the way that tried to cripple his trust in God. He responded to those challenges with faith-filled confession.
o   He told Saul he had already been given victory over a lion & a bear.
o   He confessed God could do it again.
o   When intimidated, he declared, “who is this uncircumcised Philistine?”

What comes out of your mouth matters as much as what goes into your ears & mind. If they all line up you will grow in faith & trust for sure. Make an effort to grow in the area of trust. God is faithful & is worthy of you utmost TRUST!

Pastor Richard Schlotter