My Take - Pastor's Blog

Redeeming the Time

Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 

This Scripture has only eight words in it but still has great depth and meaning. While I was studying it, there are some things that popped out to me that remind me how important my time on this earth is. 

Sometimes, we think: “Well, my time isn’t that important; I’m not the president or governor; I’m not a missionary, I’m not the CEO of a major company where millions of dollars are riding on my decisions.” 

I’m not saying every moment of your day or mine is important – I am saying that we can and should make our time important again. 

There are times in life where we do not have much spare time – where we are extremely busy working and laboring just to make it. There other times when we will have more time on our hands. But whatever time we have let’s redeem it for God. 

Why, because the days are evil! There is no doubt. If we will take a moment to look at our world, our nation, and even at times those closest to us - we will see that this old world is failing fast. Yet, as Believers, each of us have a calling inside that is greater than all this old evil world can throw at us.

We must, therefore, redeem the time. Every moment possible should be given, lived and used to do what we can for God and for good. Time left to itself, without purpose is wasted and becomes vain, but time given to God even when resting or relaxing, when given to God for the purpose of health and long-term growth, is blessed of Him and redeemed for God's service in the long run.

So if you are feeling down, depressed, off your game, in a funk or whatever it is, get back on track and start redeeming the time for God once again. The ways we can redeem the time are clear:

  • Bible reading
  • Meditating on what you have studied in the Bible
  • Memorizing Scripture
  • Prayer, all types for all people and all things
  • Teaching, training our children or others for service
  • Serving at church or blessing others
  • Reaching out to those in need and being an encouragement
  • Telling others about Christ
  • Witnessing to others
  • Attending church services and activities
  • Being productive at our job and in our homes as unto the Lord to provide for them
  • And many more things...

It so important that we stay busy; but not busy for self, or busy for money, but always busy for our Lord God of heaven. Then our time is redeemed and used for our God. - Pastor Mark Sage

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God, Help Me to Be Faithful for My Generation!

When I was a boy, I marveled at the faithfulness and work ethic of the older people in my town and in my church.  Never did they miss work often working long hours; never did they miss a service at church even when the weather was bad; and never did I hear them complain.  They weathered the storms of life as if they were wiping off snow from their coat.  They would then have the time and energy to help people in need with meals or labor without the aid of any trending social media post – because they knew their neighbors.  This they did with all stores closing by 9pm and usually closed on Sundays; no internet; no mobile phones; and no worry over the latest media induced panic.  

Sure, they had problems, setbacks and losses.  But there was no excuse making; no reliance on the government to take care of them; no blaming anyone or anything for their hardships – at least not in my church, not in that small town that I grew up in.  No, these people worked hard while looking to God and trusting Him to supply their needs.   Even the people who didn’t go to church loved their country, loved their freedom, and knew the importance of self-reliance.

You see, most of them either were kids in the depression and fought in World War II or supported the war from home.  Many others grew up in those years and saw the harm that true fascism, socialism, and communism had caused in hundreds of countries around the world.  They understood that the things they had could be easily taken away and therefore valued every blessing.   

Now, maybe I am naïve.  Perhaps I had rose colored glasses on at the time and did not or could not see all the troubles that they actually had or the stress they were truly under.  PERHAPS THAT IS RIGHT, PERHAPS NOT.  Either way, they were the example that they were supposed to be for me and for my generation of the character I should strive for. 

Today, I desire to be like those people I watched as a boy.  I want to be that example to the next generation.   I want to support my church because it is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15).  I want to continue to love my country, supporting the government when it does well, calling it out when does poorly; and loving my countrymen.  I want to be that person that bears my burdens well so that I can be able to help bear the burdens of others.   I want to be an example of hard work, determination, sacrifice, and service to the next generation as those folks I grew up around were to me.  I want to show the importance of having a consistent walk with God; faithfulness to my church; and be a good citizen in my country.  I want to stand for God, stand for right, and stand for freedom.  

O God, help me to stand up and be faithful for my generation and be an example for the next!

- Pastor Mark Sage

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It is an interesting comparison that we should consider in our lives.  One of those statements we have asked ourselves many times while the other we rarely truly consider.  The comparison is also seen in the following: Not known for his fundamental faith in our Savior, Abraham Lincoln would often have one-line statements that gave indication that perhaps he was.  One such was when asked whether or not God was on the side of the North, the wise President responded by saying: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”  

Are we on God’s side?  Are we fully trusting, fully committed, fully loving Him as we should?  Are we “ALL IN?”  We tend to always wonder why He is not with us like we expect Him to be.  In our busy lives; in dealing with our problems; while dealing with monotonous daily tasks as well as dealing with possibly life changing events – we often ask ourselves: “Does God even care about me?” or “Does God not see what I’m going through?”  In our desperation we question His faithfulness.  I suppose we have all done this at times.

The real problem is not God at all. In our problems and anxiety we deal with each day we shout at and beg God for His attention as if He doesn’t care – yet He does already! He has proven it time and again.  He created you, He sustains you, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for you.  Our God is all in for us, He has already proved that in a multitude of ways.  Rather, we need to make sure that we are “ALL IN” concerning living for Him!  The reason we struggle so much is because we are often "Partly in" or "Half in." We reserve a portion of our life, or justify our disobedience in some way. Yet, God has always loved us and given us His all and His best. God’s love does not change, He cannot lie nor can He go against His Word.  He certainly is not the problem.  Notice just a few of His precious promises:

·      He promises never to leave us or forsake us – Hebrews 13:5

·      He promises to bear our burdens – Matthew 11:28-30

·      He promises to give us the strength to live of Him – 2 Corinthians 9:8

·      He promises to help us through the problems we face – 2 Cor 12:7-10

Since these things are true and God cannot be the problem, then why do we constantly question Him?  We should be looking at ourselves.  Hebrews 3:12 says: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”  We are so easily distracted from our purpose in Christ.  We need to look at our lives (Take Heed) and prayerfully search and consider where we have been distracted, where we have been sinful, where we have allowed the world to influence us more than God and where our anxiety, worry, stress, or doubt come from.  We need to see where we are not fully committed to God.  Then, when we see its source, let’s get rid of that thing that is discouraging us from being what God wants or add that missing component where we have not been “ALL IN!”  

The Lord Jesus Christ sums up how to be all in Mark 12:30-31 when He says: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Are you “ALL IN” for God?  God is not looking for half-way – we talked about that a week ago in the sermon on being a lukewarm Christian .  God wants us all the way in, trusting fully in His care and provision for our lives.  We have hopefully trusted Him for our eternal souls, but let us also trust Him for what we need to live right now.  Let’s fully trust Him in our lives and LET’S BE ALL IN!  

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Diligence Leads to Growth

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and thathe is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Diligently here means: to search out, to investigate, crave, demand; in other places it is translated as something required – Not only am I to seek the Lord, but I’m going to put it upon myself, demand it of myself, require it of myself to seek after Him and to know Him. 

Something will happen to a person that pours their life into knowing God.  There is a process that starts to take place.   You will start studying God’s Word, you will start to know God’s people, and join a Bible believing church.  You will start to grow and learn the Principles of God’s Word.

As a result of those PRINCIPLES, you will start to develop CONVICTION.  What is this conviction – it is being convince of something.  Of what? That this book belongs to God and that you need to live by it.  So, we decide to learn seek God, we learn from His (God’s) Word, His church, and other believers and we become convinced that this is His Book and His will.  Then, we have to decide what we are going to do about it.  We are going to have develop what we call our STANDARDS – or guidelines that we develop because of the conviction we have from the Principles we have learned from His Word.  

A standard for us is “that which is established as a rule or model.”  The interesting thing is the root word of standard “STAND.” Basically it is a place where I choose to stand.  It is deciding to stand for what is right and balance our lives in the responsibilities God has given us.  To draw a line of what is important, and balancing the priorities we talked about last Sunday afternoon.   There is not room here to say too much, but it starts with learning the PRINCIPLES of God’s Word, being CONVINCED of the truths therein, and setting up STANDARDS and rules for my life and my family to keep the things written in God’s Word.  

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Concerning our Priorities as Believers

1 Corinthians 9:25 “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things…”

There is a very common list of priorities I have heard throughout my Christian life that are as follows (with some variations): God, Family, Ministry, Others, Career, Self.   The idea behind this being God should first in our priorities; then our family; after that our ministry/church, then the others in a descending order or less priority.  The idea being that God should come first, then family, etc. sounds great, but it never made perfect sense to me.  I preached a sermon on this recently and I have included the video and audio links below that expands this article.  I believe that this priority list, while well intended, actually causes us to be out of balance.

I believe there are four areas of priority that God has for our lives, I list them like this:

1.     My faith – personal walk, obedience, holiness and growth in Christ

2.     My family – making sure they are provided for spiritually, emotionally, and physically

3.     My fellowship – my responsibilities as a church membership and my ministry therein

4.     My fellows – my community and/or country, as a responsible citizen

The Believer, before God, has a responsibility to keep a balance of all of these things at once.  These are biblical mandates as well as responsibilities before God.  We should never neglect one for another.  When we do, we end up getting unbalanced and out of sync in our responsibilities.  

If over-emphasize my personal faith, I can neglect my family.  When I over-emphasize my family – I can neglect my faith or fellowship.  If my fellowship is first, my family will usually be hurt.  When someone puts their country before all else, then they will no longer attend church at the government’s direction.  

No, the proper of way to prioritize our life is to balance all of our priorities.  There are so many things involved with that, there is no doubt we will need the help of an almighty God to do it, but we can do it when we are yoked up with him (Matthew 11:28-30).  We will be able to fulfill God’s calling to grow in our walk; to care for our family properly; to be faithful to our church; and to be a good testimony as a citizen.  

Mark 10:27 “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”

Balancing the Christian Life

Audio Sermon link:

Video Sermon link (sermon starts at the 20 minute mark:

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Living Up to Expectations

I taught our midweek Bible study last night and one of the points was “God’s has Expectations for the Believer.”  It got me thinking about that truth a little.  We all have to deal with expectations.  We have expectations for ourselves; expectations for others; and there are many who have expectations for us.  Our job expects a certain degree of dedication.  Certainly, our immediate family as well as our extended family both have expectations.  Our church does, society does, our cultural norm’s also have things they expect.  But the most important expectation that Believers need to take heed to and live up to are those that God has for their lives. 

God has an expectation for you to receive salvation:

He wants you to be saved.

2 Peter 3:9 — 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

Oh friend, God’s desire and expectation for your life is that you would humbles yourself before Him and repent (turn from your sin and have) and trust Him as your Lord and Savior.   The Bible teaches us that tehre is no way to heaven but through Christ.  It is not by sacrifice; not by service; not by sacrament; not by self-righteousness, but only by the shed blood of Christ on the cross – can we be saved.  If you have not done it; the Bible says you can believe on Him right now.  Repent of your sin and put your faith solely in Him as your Lord and Savior.

God has an expectation of faithfulness:

While our personal faithfulness does not save us (his faithfulness to us does), we can be faithful after salvation to follow His will for our lives. 

We teach “FIVE TO THRIVE” at our church

1.     Be faithful to study the Bible everyday

2.     Be faithful to spend time in devoted prayer everyday

3.     Be faithful to your church “when the doors are open” (there is something new and particular for you at every service)

4.     Be a witness for Jesus Christ (tell other people about the Gospel [death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ – that they might be saved] that is through Jesus Christ)

5.     Be a giver (follow God’s commands to tithe, give to special offerings as able, and help others in need)

If a Christian does these things, he will find that he is learning to live up to and be concerned with what God wants for his life.  

God has an expectation for you to endure trials:

Surprise, surprise! The Christian life is not as easy as some churches try to advertise it to be.  I often say: “SALVATION IS FREE; BUT DISCIPLESHIP IS COSTLY!”  This is certainly true.  It was a long time ago that I decided that I was going to follow Christ no matter the cost and no matter the discomforts.  I’m not looking for trials, but I must expect them and realize that God expects me to trust Him and endure them.  

In the Believer’s life, we are often confronted with many trials of our faith.  This is a good thing if we are walking with the Lord, because when He sends it our way, it is to challenge us and help us to grow.  

1 Peter 1:7 — 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 

God’s expectation through the trial for the Believer is success.  He expects the Believer to be faithful through the trial and be found “unto praise and honour and glory.”  He does not want or expect failure.  God knows you can go through it and be found faithful throughout.  He implies this in the Word of God several times.  

1 Peter 4:12–13 — 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 

None of us are happier quitting early, or getting lazy, or given in. Much regret comes as a result of quitting before we are supposed to.  But oh, the satisfaction of finishing a race, the joy in accomplishing a goal, and the relief after enduring a hardship – as we come out the other side having been faithful through it all.  

I’m glad our God is a God of simplicity.  Salvation is simple, believe on Him as your Lord and Savior.  Serving is not complicated, just be obedient to Him.  You are able to endure – by never quitting and continuing to trust in the Lord.  

I used to have this simple philosophy in bootcamp when I went into the Marines and I have used it in many situations since then.  If things seemed difficult, the way was arduous or the Drill Instructor was mad, I used to say to myself, “They can kick me out at anytime they want, but I will never quit.”  Let's have that same attitude with our Lord. "God, you know when my life is over, but until then I will never give up and will continue to serve you no matter what." God’s expectation far outweigh the world. Each of us as sincere believers should seek to fulfill God's expectations for our lives.

Galatians 6:9 — 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

 Matthew 6:33 — 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

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Can One Go to Heaven and Return?

There are several very popular books that have been written in the last 20 years telling of experiences of people dying and going to heaven only to return to their bodies and tell of very detailed scenes of heaven and family and bringing a message to man (us) of what God wants us to know.  These are usually from stories of people whose heart had stopped on the operating table or were in some type of coma for a time or had some type of trauma.

These are compelling stories that excite the Christian’s imagination and many people’s hopes of seeing their loved ones again.  But do these types of experiences really line up with the principles of Scriptures?  Let’s see what the Scriptures teach in regard to one going to heaven and then returning again.  

The Scriptures give us the information about heaven that God wanted us to know.  God did not leave anything out that He wanted us to know about it.  We can rest assured that His perfect Word shows us and declares to us exactly everything He deemed worthy at this time.  Is there more to heaven than the Bible reveals – no doubt about it.  It is something will be revealed to us as we enter in and live with the Lord.  Consider what 2 Peter 1 teaches us about the knowledge of God:

2 Peter 1:2-3 2  Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

God made no mistakes, He did not forget anything – he has shared with us what He wanted us to know about heaven.  

There are things that God never intended for us to know about heaven at this time.  In fact, twice in the Bible God mentions this.  Both were visions that God gave to two of his choice servants, the Apostle Paul and the Prophet Daniel. In Daniel 12:1-4, he was told to shut up the Words until the end of time that he was revealing about judgment to come and heaven to be revealed.  Paul was told in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 (the correlation of the two latter references is interesting) that he was not speak about what he saw:  

2 Corinthians 12:4  How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

If two of the greatest witnesses of the Old & New Testaments were not to reveal things – why would God then allow “just about anyone who claims it” to go to heaven and come back reveal new things.  He and His Word are already sufficient for us.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 teach us that Bible has “thoroughly furnished us.”  We lack no other revelation that what God intended.  Revelation has ceased in our church era.  The Bible is the complete revelation of God to man.  1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teach us that there is no new prophecy or knowledge once that which is perfect has come.  Of course, this is the completion of the Scriptures.  It is the only perfect thing that we can look to and trust in today – THE BIBLE!  Not someone’s word from a near death experience.

We are commanded to walk by faith not by sight.  In other words, God wants us to have faith in His Word and what it teaches us.  He does not use signs and wonders to convince us to believe – but His Word and creation are our testimonies along with the changed lives of those around us.  As it was for he “rich man” in Luke 16 – that this type of testimony would not be enough. 

Luke 16:26-31 26  And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27  Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Can I remind you that One has already come back from the grave – Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  If you want to believe in a resurrection experience, believe in His – Believe in Him.  Commit your life to Christ in faith with repentance of your sin and you will have a home in heaven with him.  Extra biblical, unverifiable, and suspect testimonies of anyone who claims they have come back from heaven is denied by God’s Word, disobedient to His Word, and is dangerous.

  • by Pastor Mark Sage
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Who Sets Your Standard?

The question is an important one to ask yourself.  No, I did not tell you to ask someone else their standard, the answer to the question is one that you need to determine in your own life in accordance with the Word of God.  As you look at your own “inside” and “outside,” who is it that sets your individual standard?  People love to declare their individuality without realizing that in their pursuit of being “original” they are actually conforming to a standard.  Unfortunately, it is often not one a Christian should have.  A standard is a limit or self-imposed rule in our life that we set.  It is not necessarily verbalized or written down – but each of us have standards for how far we will go in a situation, or “where we draw the line.”

When we take a careful look at our lives we will likely decide (if we are honest) that it is the world that sets most of our standards.  It holds great sway and influence over how we live our lives and contributes greatly to the standard of morality and rules we live up to.  

Yet, as a Christian, we know that standards ought to be derived from God’s Word.  We learn principles from the teachings of the Bible; as a result we develop convictions (deeply rooted beliefs), and therefore set standards to live by in order to keep the principles we have learned.  Once developed, by conviction, we can no longer allow the world to set our standards.  

The Bible makes it clear to us in: 1 John 2:15-17

15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Charles Spurgeon spells it out for us 140 years ago: “Avoid the appearance of evil. ‘But we must not be too rigid,’ says one. There is no fear of that in these days. You will never go too far in holiness, nor become too like your Lord Jesus. If anybody accuses you of being too strict and precise, do not grieve, but try to deserve the charge.

I cannot suppose that at the last great day, our Lord Jesus Christ will say to everyone, ‘You were not worldly enough. You were too jealous over your conduct, and did not sufficiently conform to the world.’ No, my brethren, such a wrong is impossible. He who said, ‘Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect,’ has set before you a standard beyond which you can never go.

’Well, but,’ says one, ‘are we to have no enjoyments?’ My dear friend, the enjoyments which are prepared for Christians are many and great, but they never include sin and folly. Do you call vice and folly enjoyments?”

I do not want the world to dictate where my standards for living lie.  I want God’s Word and the influence of godly believers to be the influence upon my life, not the world.  WHO IS THEN THAT IS SETTING YOUR STANDARD?  IS IT THE INFLUENCE OF THE BIBLE AND GODLY CHRISTIANS OR IS IT THE WORLD ITS UNGODLY INFLUENCES THAT YOU SET YOUR STANDARDS?

 The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 84

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Is it Easter or the Resurrection for You?

The busyness of the Easter holiday seems to be growing. More is being purchased probably than ever before. Easter is an appropriate name of this day for most for it is a pagan holiday. As a believer though, we do not celebrate Spring or "new life" as those who celebrate Easter do (knowingly or ignorantly). Rather, it is the day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ even referring to it as "Resurrection Sunday!" What a wonderful fact it is that the Lord used such a pagan holiday to complete his plan for the redemption of man. May Easter never replace the importance and place that the resurrection of Jesus Christ holds. Praise God that you are here and are a part of our services as we seek to lift up the Lord in praise and honor for He is worthy - and the truth is, He is the creator of Spring and He is the giver of "new life." You can have a new life starting today in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Why don't you trust Him today! Thank you for being a part of our services and please let us know how we can bless you. - Pastor Mark Sage 

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