Receive Correction!

I have decided to read a chapter from the book of Proverbs each day of the month of May. With 31 chapters in Proverbs and 31 days in May, the plan is easy. Because Proverbs was written by Solomon to impart wisdom to his children (and all of us), there are major themes repeated. For example: the gain of wisdom, the fear of God, the use of words, the value of hard work, etc. Another theme that catches my attention is this: be willing to receive discipline and instruction from God and others. If I could rewind the clock, I would have avoided some painful mistakes in my life by humbling myself and asking for help. So, how can we grow from correction today, no matter how old we are? Here are a few insights: 1) Invite discipline and advice. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid” (Prov. 12:1). The only way to learn is to admit our ignorance and ask questions…and not pretend we know it all. 2) Repent of our pride. “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Prov. 13:10). “No one’s gonna tell me what to do!” is the motto of many who misunderstand independence and respect. Criticism from others often hurts, but we can gain from it, if we are willing to grow and improve. 3) Keep the end in mind. To those who refuse correction, Solomon warns, “At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors” (Prov. 5:11-13). God loves us so much that He brings correction and discipline when we need it. Sometimes He uses the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Other times, He may correct us through circumstances. And, He often uses other people in our lives, especially those in authority. Welcome correction and discipline as loyal friends! “Do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Prov. 3:11). Change is often uncomfortable, but it yields good fruit to those who seek God’s ways!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Remembering Mom

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3). As you know, children don’t naturally obey and honor parents; they must be taught. On this Mother’s Day, I want to reminisce about my own mother and some lessons she taught me. First, Mom was a follower of Jesus and believed in prayer. I would probably not be serving God in the ministry today if my mother had not prayed urgently for me! The difficult trials she endured (many from her three sons!) forced her to depend on God. Another great lesson I learned from Mom was the power of consistency. She knew the importance of providing spiritual experiences for her sons, even though my dad did not share her convictions. So, every Sunday she went to church and brought us along with her. As we grew older, it was harder for her because we sometimes complained and chose to stay home with Dad. However, she remained firm in her belief that we needed the church. I’m so glad she persevered! It was through a Sunday morning message at church that Jesus took hold of my heart and changed my life! I believe the greatest lesson my mother taught me was the importance of persevering. Mom had struggles with cancer at two times in her life. God healed her the first time but chose to take her home during the second battle. I remember my last visits with her as she lay on her bed for several months, continually getting weaker. Although her outward person was wasting away, her inner person in Jesus remained steadfast and strong. She enjoyed having me read the Bible and pray with her. She never blamed God or gave up on Jesus. The Lord Jesus was her life and she is now with Him forever…no more pain or suffering! I am so grateful for my Christian mother who taught many great life lessons. My prayer today for you, Moms, is that Jesus would keep you faithful and give you strength every day so that you can leave a godly legacy to those who follow.

Pastor Mark Boucher

It’s Right in Front of You!

Why do we get it wrong so often? Too many people think the Bible is just a rule book, filled with restrictions and warnings. And so, the Word of God is avoided because it “interferes” with our happiness. But, it’s just the opposite! The only true happiness in life is found in the Lord and His Word. This morning I read Proverbs 2 and pondered all the benefits and blessings for those who seek to know God and what He reveals. “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6). God’s wisdom not only keeps me from a path of despair and self-destruction but shows me the way to experience His goodness for my life. To the one who seeks God and His ways, the Lord gives understanding, knowledge, and protection. “Then you will understand what is right and just and fair-every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse…” (Prov. 2:9-11). It’s my observation in life that we get what we go after. If we ignore God and pursue superficial vanities and values, emptiness clings to us like smoke. If we want knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, it’s also right in front of us. The question then comes down to this: “What do we choose to pursue?” Walk past the street trash and dig for the treasure. It takes a little more time and effort to dig, but the treasure is there waiting for us! Develop an appetite for God and His righteousness. Starve the selfish carnal nature and “indulge” your soul in the mighty presence of God and His pure Word. “At the end of the day” you will enjoy the deep peace of Jesus and not be filled with regrets over foolish decisions. God bless you!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Be Careful What You Store Away!

The Lord wants good fruit from our lives! While reading Luke this week, I pondered the lesson from Jesus about the trees and their fruit. Jesus said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit…” (Luke 6:43-44a). And so, my natural question is “How can I be a good tree, bearing good fruit?” The more I grow in the Lord, the more I realize the importance of “pruning.” Pruning is the cutting away of that which is unimportant to allow what is essential to grow and flourish. When Jesus speaks of a “good tree,” we know from other Scriptures that only He is the source of this goodness. Salvation is Jesus washing our hearts from sin and declaring us forgiven, not guilty, before God. This is grace! Pruning is the surrender and discipline I offer the Lord because of His grace given to me. In other words, God’s grace in my life does not mean I have no involvement in growing good fruit. Jesus goes on to describe the process of growing good or bad fruit. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:45a). If we truly belong to God, and are called a “good tree,” we will cooperate with God by making sure we store up good in our hearts. Okay, let’s get practical. If you’re a follower of Jesus, you make daily decisions. What will you watch on the TV or PC? What kind of music will you listen to? What type of material will you read? Who will you choose to listen to? For, what passes through your eye and ear “gates” gets stored in your hearts. If you wonder why God tells us over and over again to read, study, and meditate on His Word, it’s because He wants us to be filled with His thoughts and to turn from evil. From good thoughts come good fruit. From evil thoughts come bad fruit. The concept is easy. However, the practice takes God’s power, blended with our self-discipline! In the end we will present the fruit of our lives as gifts to the One who gave us the greatest gift…eternal salvation through Jesus Christ!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Finding Life

If you watched a day’s worth of commercials on TV you would discover all kinds of answers to “finding life.” Buy the right car! Purchase the perfect skin cream! Eat this delicious food! Hire an amazing attorney to get the money you deserve! On and on it goes. One day Jesus spoke to a group of self-assured leaders about finding life. They believed in their superiority over others because of their involvement in the right activities and connections with the right people (while despising the “bad” people). Jesus said to them, “Yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Even though they believed they had “found life,” they were lost. Someone defined “lostness” as doing a lot of activity…with no purpose. As I read the encounters Jesus had with people like this, I ask myself, “Why in the world would they refuse to come to Jesus?” The answer is found by simply looking around and looking within. Why don’t more people come to Jesus today? Could it be the exposure factor? If the average person is exposed to hundreds of “commercials” about the meaning of life and yet hardly ever hears God’s Word, what will they choose? Many people have only a “cartoon version” of Christianity, and perceive following Jesus as a repressive life, missing out on “all the fun.” If you are a believer in Jesus, you have discovered that Jesus is truly “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). To walk with Jesus is to know the secret of “abundant life” (John 10:10). So, how can we help others who are lost? Let’s start by making sure we don’t lose sight of Jesus ourselves. Paul told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Be responsible for yourself first. You must lead yourself in the ways of Jesus before you can point others to the way. Today, I was driving on the highway and saw a tow truck on the side of the road behind a car that needed assistance. However, when I got closer, I noticed the tow truck’s front tire was shredded down to the metal rim! The tow truck wasn’t going anywhere until it first received help. In summary, true life is found in Jesus! To help others find life in Jesus, we need to stay close to The Life Himself.

Pastor Mark Boucher

When Kids Go Wrong

Why do kids blessed with godly parents sometimes choose a pathway of evil? King Hezekiah was a great and godly king who reigned in Judah (you can read his story in 2 Kings chapters 18-20). His son, Manasseh, however, jumped headfirst into the cesspool of sin. The Bible says, “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites…Manasseh led them astray (the people of Judah), so that they did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before” (2 Kings 21:2,9b). Here we see a young king sprinting toward self-destruction…and the ruin of his nation. Today, your heart may be breaking over a child who has rejected truth and is continuing to make one bad decision after another. You ask, “What will it take for him (or her) to come back to God?” In the case of Manasseh, God allowed him to experience the bitter fruit of his choices. The Scriptures tell us, “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon” (2 Chron. 33:10-11). Try to imagine going from a throne to a torture chamber! The Babylonians treated captured kings with the most extreme pain and humiliation. Manasseh was led around like an animal on a leash, which was connected to his face with a hook through his lips! I don’t pretend to understand everything about how God works with wayward children, but I do know that God allows us to come to a place of desperation. Sometimes, personal pain is the only thing that will get our attention. In spite of all Manasseh’s woes, his story ends on an encouraging note. “In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (2 Chron. 33:12). In his mercy, God actually restored Manasseh to his kingdom. Don’t give up praying for your rebellious child. The last chapter hasn’t been written yet. And let them know you are praying for them and are there for them.

Pastor Mark Boucher

Lasting Change

Last week I went into Home Depot looking for some mirror hangers. After asking for help (saves time), I went to the proper area. I grabbed a small plastic box of hangers, but kept on looking for what I thought was a better fit for what I needed. After several minutes of scanning other items, I closely examined what I had already picked up at first. Then I discovered my first choice was exactly what I needed! I didn’t need to choose something different, as much as I needed to understand what I already had in my hand. This Sunday we begin a series of preaching messages on the subject of “Lasting Change” from the Book of Ephesians. The greatest change in my life happened when Jesus saved me. “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” (Eph. 2:4-5). This wonderful salvation was not a “finish line” for me, but more of an open door to a new life. I have a little booklet in my office I often give to people whose lives are saved by Jesus. It is called, “Now What?”. We don’t receive Christ…just to stay in old habits and patterns. “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). After Jesus raises us up from our deadness in sin, His plan for us involves learning to overcome sin and walk in resurrection power! When it comes to our salvation, we don’t move away from it over time, but we learn to grow deeper in the One who saved us. Some believers in Jesus act like they are bored with their relationship with God. They are “window shopping” the world, trying to test the other “products.” But, take a closer look at what you already have in Christ. To really know Jesus and to seek Him daily satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. Paul describes this connection with Christ as being “seated” with Him in the heavenly realms. To sit down means the job is done. Jesus did the hard work, making a way for us to get right with God. Now, we rejoice in Him and receive His salvation power in order to become like Jesus every day. Lasting change starts with Jesus and continues in Him. If you are a Christian, look more closely at what you have. You don’t need to “try other things.”

Pastor Mark Boucher

In Vain?

You know the feeling. Someone asks you do something. So out of the kindness of your heart, you spend hours on it. And then you get “the call.” They don’t need your help after all! You feel as if all your work has been IN VAIN! Now, let’s consider the amazing words and deeds of Jesus. Did His death render “null and void” all His accomplishments? After all, He died on a cross as a crucified criminal. But, here’s what changes everything: He didn’t stay dead! The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s stamp of approval that He was, indeed, God in the flesh! Without the Resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth would be considered merely a blip on the radar of history, an odd character shrouded in mystery. Although accomplishing many miracles and acts of kindness, if He does not rise from the dead (as He promised), His life is just a passing breeze. No Resurrection also completely changes our lives. Without the risen Son of God, our lives are also in vain. Let the Apostle Paul explain: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19). Without the Resurrection of Jesus, our desires to be good, our acts of love, and our deeds of service all add up to zero! Our faith is futile…empty and meaningless. Worst of all, without the Resurrection we have no future or hope. If Christ did not rise from the dead, we do not rise either. As a pastor, I have preached at about 100 funerals. All my words of comfort and promises of heaven for Christians have been a cruel hoax…if Jesus is still in the grave.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…” 1 Cor. 15:20a

The grave could not keep Him and death could not hold Him! As a follower of Jesus, you do not live in vain. Every day has purpose. You are serving the Lord. As a follower of Jesus, you do not die in vain. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). His Resurrection assures your resurrection, and His future assures your future. Let us worship God and stand in awe before the greatest act in human history…the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Mark Boucher

It’s Not a Burden!

So, you ask someone to do you a favor. They say yes, but all the time they are helping you they complain and act irritated about the favor. How does that make you feel? Now, let’s apply this to serving God. How do you think God feels when we act like our service to Him is such a burden? This morning, the Lord reminded me of the importance of my attitude toward sacrifice. In Matthew 13:44, Jesus gives us the parable of the hidden treasure. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” We see here that for the man to experience the full ownership of the treasure, he needed to sell what he owned. To gain the greatest thing, he had to be willing to sacrifice the lesser things. Did he resent having to do this? Did he say, “I don’t see why I need to take the time to sell all my stuff! It seems unreasonable to have to let go of these things I like.” No, there was none of that. The Bible says, “in his joy went and sold all he had.” Why complain about the small stuff when he had the treasure waiting for him! Everything in this life is a “trade off.” We spend our time, talent, and energy on what we feel is important to us. If serving Jesus is important to us, we should not complain about the time and effort it takes. For example, if I am starting to pray, and wish in my heart that I didn’t have to pray, but would rather be watching TV, then it would be better to get my attitude right or just stop praying and watch TV. God is after our heart. He doesn’t want “reluctant obedience.” We need to see that it’s our highest privilege to give to the Lord. When it comes to prayer, reading the Word, attending services…it’s not that I have to do these things, but that I get to do these things. When my attitude is right, the sacrifices of life fill me with the joy of Jesus. Nothing is better than that! The Lord can help us develop an attitude that pleases Him. Psalm 100:2 tells us, “Serve the Lord with gladness”!

Pastor Mark Boucher

Determined

Who said it would be easy? The person who receives Christ and expects a smooth, carefree cruise into the Kingdom will be sadly disappointed. Growth, advancement, and progress in the ways of God in the midst of this world take great focus and determination. Consider our Lord Jesus. Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah saying, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). To accomplish the mission of God, Jesus needed tremendous focus and determination. Although tempted many times toward lesser things, He succeeded in finishing the “main thing” God called him to do. Luke 9:51 declares, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” His face was set and His determination was firm. No other priorities or responsibilities would sidetrack Him from His mission to die for the sins of the world. Aren’t you glad He stayed on mission? If Jesus is in you, He has called you to do something…to trust Him and obey His will. In the midst of this unpredictable and rapidly changing world, our biggest temptation will be to “crowd out the call.” Too many believers have drifted away from Jesus. They don’t hate Jesus or curse Him; they just don’t pay much attention to Him. The superficial has replaced the eternal. Don’t let it happen to you! Pay attention. Stay determined. Pray often for the heart of a true disciple, steadfast and focused. The rewards for obedience are worth it! Isaiah says, “I will not be disgraced” (50:7).

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or back away. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed!”

Anonymous

What is the “main thing” God wants you to do?

Pastor Mark Boucher