by Pastor Jared Baker on August 24th, 2018

Have you ever tried to get on an airplane without your personal identification?  You can't even get through the security check line without first showing proof of your identity.  You could tell the officer who you are and that you promise that is your name, but that doesn't matter to the TSA officer.  They will tell you to come back when you have a government issued I.D. with you!

​Your "Identity" is so important!  In the Roman empire during the time of Christ, it was common practice for the government to issue someone with blindness or an individual that was lame or an invalid an identification of a "legal beggar". Many times that identification was literally a "beggars coat". This coat gave them the legal right to beg for money on a daily basis at the side of the road.

There is a story of a blind man found in Mark 10:46-52.  Mark states that Bartimaeus was on the side of the road leading out of Jericho begging.  The Gospel writer says that Bartimaeus had "heard" that Jesus was passing by.  He cried out to Him..."Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!"  Verse 49 says that Jesus stopped in His tracks!  This blind beggar that the world had kicked to the side of the road, had just gotten Jesus' attention.   Jesus was leaving Jericho on His way to Jerusalem, where in just over a week, He would be crucified and pay the price for the sins of the world!  I'm sure that Jesus had plenty to think about at this moment, but something makes Him stop and pay attention to someone crying out above the noise of the crowd.  It was Bartimaeus crying out with a loud voice, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me."  This shows that Bartimaeus recognized Christ's true identity!  He was calling Jesus the Messiah! 

​​This man had been given the identity of a blind beggar by the world.  This man was told by the world, "here, wear this beggars coat, this is who you are."  The government had said this is who you are and nothing will ever change!  But Jesus stopped and called for blind Bartimaeus. Verse 50 says that he "throws" the coat off.  Why would Mark even mention such a thing? I believe it is to simply show us a powerful symbol of this man's faith.  Bartimaeus was saying, "I won't need this identity anymore, I'm about to receive my sight!"  This man is brought to Jesus and Jesus asks him what HE WANTS!  He doesn't ask for money or any other temporary fix for his life.  He asks for the one thing that will change his see again!  Jesus then says that his faith has made him whole.  BARTIMAEUS WAS HEALED!  He then follows Christ from that moment on.

Do you see the beautiful picture here? I believe Bartimaeus was saying "I am throwing off this old beggars life.  I believe I am about to receive my sight!  I believe this old way of life is ending and I'm ready!  I'm not going back!  We are all born into a sin sick, cursed life of darkness, pain and suffering.  Only Jesus can free us from the bondage of sin and the curse of death itself!  Only Jesus can truly change our identity.  Bartimaeus recognized that his identity was about to change.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that we are created new in Christ when we are born again.  Does your identity come from that old man of sin, doubt, fear, failure, weakness, pride and darkness?  Or does your identity come from a relationship with Christ and His Word?  

Ephesians 4:22-24 (paraphrased) says to "strip off or throw away that old man...and put on or dress up in that new man In Christ."  ​The devil and the world may want to identify you with a beggars coat, but in Christ, it's time to throw that coat off once and for all.  You have been given a new coat, a new identity.  Get in the Word of God today and dress up that new person in Christ!

Posted on August 2nd, 2018

In the world's way of thinking these two things do not go together:  "Joy and Giving". The reason for this is because we naturally look at giving as "losing" something.  God, however, says the exact opposite.  King Solomon said in Proverbs 11:24-25, that one gives away, and still grows the richer: another keeps what he should give, and is the poorer. A liberal soul will be enriched, and he who waters will himself be watered (Moffat Translation) . 

God loves, (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is not willing to abandon or do without) a cheerful, (joyous, "prompt to do it") giver (whose heart is in his giving.) ​2 Corinthians 9:7 (Amp). 

Many Christians just give enough to irritate themselves!  They give with a consciousness of their giving rather than a consciousness of God's generosity!  Some give "with a grudge" against God. 2 Corinthians 9:7 in the KJV says not to give "grudgingly".  God said it to me this way once:  "you don't have to give, you GET to give!"  If I give with a consciousness of God's generosity I won't be the one trying to "figure" my tithe down to the penny because I don't want to give God anything  more than I "have to". 

Personally, that is the kind of attitude I have when it comes to paying a bill or paying my taxes!  When I pay the electric bill I don't send an extra $100 to the company just because I think they've done such a good job.  No, I pay what is the penny!  With God, I should be so overwhelmed with His grace, His mercy, His provision, His everything in my life, that I desire to sow and give into His kingdom in a cheerful way! 

Jesus said in Matt. 6:19-21 to realize that what you give in this life into God's Kingdom of your time, talent and treasure is actually being "stored up" in eternity!  When I go get some fast food, the money I spend is enjoyed by my flesh for a couple hours but that money has left my hands to never return!  If I go and purchase a new T.V. I can enjoy it for a few years, but eventually it is going to end up in the trash.  This life is temporary and the "things" of this life are as well! 

We should enjoy this life and the things in this life.  Jesus even said he would give us the "stuff" of this life (Matt. 6:32-33);  but, in order to truly have the attitude of joy in our giving we must have the proper perspective.  If my perspective on giving is that it is leaving my hands to never return, then I will be a "grudging" giver because I see it as God "taking" something from me! If, however, I understand that what I give into God's kingdom is actually going into my future and producing a great harvest in His kingdom and in my own life, then there won't be a "grudge" to my giving, but a great JOY in my giving! 

The Lord loves a JOY-FILLED GIVER!  Keep the proper perspective in your giving and you'll find that you have plenty to "sow" and plenty to "eat" because it is the nature of any seed to multiply itself!  (2 Corinthians 9:10)

by Pastor Jessica Baker on June 15th, 2018

​We all have household chores, right? And if we don’t do our part in the house, then we might be living in a mess! Did you know it is the same with our spiritual walk?  Physically speaking, none of us really enjoy a filthy house, so why do we put up with mess in our spiritual lives?  I have come to the conclusion that my mess is only going to be cleaned up by me!  It is my responsibility to take hold of my own spiritual life... and nobody else can do that for me.

I want to encourage you to get up and let Jesus help you clean up your mess!  “Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you!” Isaiah 60:1, AMPC.

The Lord is your strength and He will help you overcome!  Pick up your Bible and read, get on your knees and pray, sing songs of victory!  Don’t allow the enemy to lie to you another day. DON’T KEEP LIVING IN YOUR MESS!  IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE!

by Pastor Jessica Baker on March 23rd, 2018

Have you ever been in a real emergency?  I mean the kind of emergency that makes you dial 911?  If you have, then you probably have a sense of tremendous gratefulness for First Responders!  They are some of the most amazing people in the world.  They will pull you from a burning car, run in to a burning building, stand in between you and gunfire, and administer CPR for you to have life.  All of us should thank God everyday for people who are willing to place themselves even in harm's way if need be to rescue us!

​I have noticed something very interesting about this type of person -- they are not typically going to be the ones that have lengthy conversations with you about your emotions at the time of emergency or even your opinion of the way you should be rescued.  They are what I call "in the zone!"  They are completely focused on what needs to take place in order to ensure your safety -- whether it hurts your feelings or not!  I don't know about you, but I am thankful that they stay on point!

​Isn't it like this in the body of Christ?  Aren't ministers like these first responders for us spiritual speaking?  How many emergencies have we had that an ambulance, tourniquet or ventilator could not fix, but the Word of God through our Pastor swept in and rescued us?  Ministers are God's men and women on the job, and are just as amazing as those who come to our physical rescue.  They, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have the responsibility of rescuing humanity from things that are unseen.  They are called of God to rush into the fire of life if need be, and pull us out of our destruction!  We place too much weight on whether or not they shook our hand on Sunday.  It is time for all of us to recognize the blessing that they are and thank God that they keep their focus!

​Just as our first responders have to answer for the way they administer care to those who have been hurt, ministers of the Gospel have to answer to God for the administering of His Word for the care of His people. He is going to ask questions like, "Did you tell them the truth?  Did you tell them that I have come that they might have life?  Did you stand in the way of the destruction of sin?  Did you deliver my unfailing Word so that their hearts could be healed?  Did you feed my sheep?"  When the five-fold leadership of the church stands before God, He is not going to ask if they did a good job pleasing people, but He is going to require an account of what they did with His Word​.

​In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him.  Peter said, "Lord you know I do!"  Jesus' response is very interesting, He says, "then feed my sheep."  One of the greatest expressions of love that your Pastor or any other minister of the Gospel can give to the Lord is His attention to delivering the Word of God to us so that we might grow.  Just as we should be thankfully praying for the strength of our community first responders, how much more should we pray for the strength of our Pastors? 

In Romans 15:30-32, the Apostle Paul asked for the church to pray for Him.  He asked them to pray specifically that he would be filled with joy and be refreshed.   It is time to change our perspective about our Pastors and begin to daily thank God for them and pray for them.  We are much better off,  when our Shepherds -- our spiritual First Responders --  are full of joy, refreshed and focused -- in the zone -- doing what they need to do to provide for our spiritual growth, safety and rescue!

by Pastor Jessica Baker on October 27th, 2017

Did you know that Jesus was the original visionary of church growth?  Oh I know, you thought church growth was a modern concept but that is just not so -- it began with Jesus.  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.,"  Matthew 16:18.  The rock that Jesus was speaking of was the divine revelation of who He is.  He asked Peter, "Who do you think I am?"  I ask you that question today -- WHO DO YOU SAY THAT HE IS?  Jesus wants His church to grow because He wants all of humanity to know Who He Is!  The Lord builds His church upon that mystery that has been revealed to us --  that is --  CHRIST IN US THE HOPE OF GLORY!

​How does He build His church upon this revelation?  By using the hands and feet of His people.  Church growth doesn't just happen because someone prophecies that it will happen or just because you have a good business plan -- your result will only then be customers for Christ!  Jesus did not say "Go ye therefore into all the world and make customers,"  HE SAID "GO MAKE DISCIPLES!"

​"And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved!"  Acts 2:46-47.  If the Apostle Paul had written this in our day and time, it might say something like this:  "And they stayed connected every day, inviting each other over for supper, enjoyed spending time together chilling, praising God together in worship, serving in the church with one heart and vision whether that is holding babies or cleaning the church, finding favor in their community even with leaders of the city, and the Lord built His church!"  (My modern paraphrase:)  IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS.  IT'S ALL ABOUT HOW MANY MORE WE CAN REACH WITH THE REVELATION OF OUR SAVIOR.  HE USES YOU!  

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