Weekly Devotional

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  • “The Calling”

2 Tim 1:9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,  

The divine calling to the ministry came in my life in the spring of 1997 at the age of thirty. I never had any ambitions of becoming a preacher and certainly not a pastor. My wife and I were content to raise our family and God had provided us with a home and the means to support it. The calling came in a shocking manner, out of the blue, so to speak. I knew immediately it was God’s will that I should follow and spent a couple of months before I finally surrendered to the burden. I was always rather embarrassed to speak in public and had refrained from doing so all my life, but God had plans for me and my family. At this present time my oldest sons (now 19 and 20) were 2 and 3. I had no way of knowing the difficulties and the blessings I would encounter on the way and the impact it would have on my family. I know there are more seasoned minister’s that would tell me that after 17 years I am just beginning to get my feet wet.  Faithfulness to the high calling of God seems to be a waning purpose in our day. Presently in my 10th year of pastoral work I feel even more inadequate than when I first began. A sincere pastor will spend many hours throughout each week praying for God’s message and preparing to preach it. If He is truly spirit led by the time Sunday morning comes he is so convinced of the message from God that he could do nothing less than deliver what the Holy Spirit has spoken to him.
We now live in a time and a culture that I feel ministry has become most difficult and nothing can be taken for granted. The simple objectives of the church set forth plainly in the word of God have become complex and to many people, questionable. How we relate to people, how we worship, how we conduct stewardship, or even how we pray and sing and even the smallest things now seems injected with enormous weight, and pastors can often feel the burden residing on their own slumping shoulders. Many pastors are asking: “What will become of the church?” Should we change to accommodate culture as to save the remaining church population? I fear many are willing to forsake the truth to do so, God forbid. I have seen other men as I, called into this work, relentlessly labor and agonize in prayer, weekly deliver messages that have been sought after with strong prayer and conviction yet to little or no avail.
I have read after ministers who speak of a time when a pastor could at least impact the church and the community through the weekly message. Preaching to lost soul’s, addressing social problems, helping the poor, rallying the church, all of these and more could be addressed with a degree of effect through a sermon and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Now . . . in a culture where all things are visual, quick and un-impressionable, a sermon’s impact is often just momentary. Attention spans can no longer hold the spoken word, and, once heard, the sermon floats away with little impact and many are lulled to sleep on a pillow of boredom. Abrasive sermons or edifying sermons seem to have the same results when delivered to ones who do not hunger for the word of God. To keep up with cultural demands some try to adapt faster, bolder, trendy or more shocking stimulation just to hold an audience if one can even be gathered.
What has happened to just following the Holy Spirit and preaching the plain simple truth and a sincere faithfulness and devotion of the hearers. Today’s pastor’s have difficulty competing with the onslaught of other voices and the latest technology that people clamor for. Difficulty is compounded by difficulty. The hard just gets harder. And the field of harvest grows ever larger. I’ve seen pastor’s “preaching their hearts out” weekly uplifting Christ, trying to encourage people to live for Christ, trying to promote good works in the church yet people are still starving for the one thing often held before their very eyes. Many are dying of thirst when a never ending river flows before them. People try to satisfy what religious culture has dictated they need rather than just focusing on their own relationship with Christ. Many become quickly bored with traditional music, repetitive sermons and church life in general so they look to fill the void in their souls that can only be filled by one, Jesus.
I must stand to remind us that it’s not a “what” that’s missing from today’s church it’s who. We all struggle relationally because walking with Christ is against our very nature and living counter culturally is the present day spiritual warfare. Our problem is we are trying to Christianize culture and Jesus said that just doesn’t work, “ye cannot serve God and mammon”. If you are truly born again nothing else other than Christ can fill the void in your soul. The divine element of the Holy Spirit has come into your life and when “He” is suppressed by our selfish lifestyles our soul will begin to yearn and cry out to be filled but it cannot be filled by any church, progressive programs, personal study, motivational preacher or by anything else other than Christ. I find historically and biblically that’s the difference. We often fail to fully abide in Christ. Which means living for, praying to, worshiping and mediating on Jesus every moment of every day. We have turned the focus to self, our families or other needs that we have in life. If our relationships were right then everything else we think is wrong might become trivial.
Many Christian’s today are seeking a religious social environment for their children’s well being rather than a sound element of the gospel. I must state this can be detrimental if we sacrifice the true gospel and seek to replace it with religious relevance and social worship. Sometimes we want so much good for our kids that we unintentionally expose them to what is the exact opposite of what they need.
I know I have sacrificed my family to the ministry but the glorious thing is God has taken care of my family, in ways I could not foresee or even understand. I mean much, much more than just provision. My family has followed me wherever the Lord has placed us. I admit I have worried about the impact of being in small churches and the inconsistency in the home as a result of the demands of ministry. If those decisions had been left up to my wife or myself we would have probably planted ourselves in the most progressive Missionary Baptist Church we could have found, the one that had the most to offer for my kids, the one that appeared to be successful. However that’s exactly why it’s not left up to us. God knows what you need even if you do not want it! God will plant you exactly where you need to be if you will allow Him. When you are faithful to God’s direction for your life HE knows what’s best for you and your family. Faithfulness and stability are as much a part of the walk of faith as faith itself. When is seems like things are bleak, unsatisfying or God is absent, that’s usually when He’s working. This article is a testimony to the faithfulness of God amidst the faithlessness of men.
I praise His high and holy name and thank Him for He has given me a wonderful privilege through ministry that few enjoy. The challenges of ministry have brought many sleepless nights and many days of agonizing in prayer but the blessings God bestows are of eternal reward and immeasurable. During the times we are discouraged or even questioning God is when He most often proves himself if we would just stay the course.
Upon taking my first pastorate 10 years ago the very first Sunday after my ordination I had three to baptize and the first person I ever immersed was my first born son, Kyle. Since that time I’ve seen my youngest (Karson) saved and recently had the honor of baptizing him into Grace church where I presently pastor.  My middle son was saved at Victory MBC and baptized there but God recently gave a blessing that I never expected or even imagined. He called my second born son, Kurt, into the ministry and this past Sunday I stood in the same pulpit as my son and introduced him as he stood to preach his first sermon. What a blessing! I cannot express my joy. God has taken care of my family. His benefits and blessing are far beyond our understanding. It’s not social skills, a successful life or even education that makes me proud of my children. It’s the blessing of seeing God at work in their lives!
3 John 1:4  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Remaining faithful is of the utmost importance in our walk with the Lord. The decisions we make have an impact not only on ourselves but our families. If you’re called to preach remain faithful to your calling. If God has given you purpose in His church, remain faithful to His direction. It’s easy to get lost in our own ambition or discouraged by a lack of enthusiasm but don’t try to replace what’s missing with as the prophet says, cisterns which cannot hold water. Never quit the purposes of God no matter how difficult they become for God has not called you to success, He has not called you to rescue the church, He has called you first to obedience.

“Dealing with Disappointment”

Psalm 42:11  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God

Have you ever felt disappointed or let down by someone you really care about? The answer is probably yes because we all face many disappointments in life. Millions of Americans suffer from what begins as disappointment and leads to discouragement and eventually can turn into depression, stress or just plain old unhappiness. Statistics show that 30 to 40 million Americans are treated for depression annually. The use of antidepressant drugs is up to an alarming rate. While depression can be a real treatable disorder, often people simply treat the symptoms and the root cause of the problem is never dealt with. Many times the root of emotional distress can be a spiritual problem.
In Psalms 42 David asked the question, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me?” David had been yearning in tears while his enemies had been taunting him. They continually mocked his faith with the question, Where is your God? He longed to be filled with God’s presence in worshiping the Lord at the temple of God and because his soul was downcast he prayed to the Lord. In his prayer he asked God why he had to continue suffering. The psalmist compared his yearning for God to the need of an animal thirsting for water. Then David called on the Lord to deliver him from his despair. David expressed his disappointment that God had not destroyed his enemies but he was able to overcome his feelings by exalting God and trusting in Him for who He was. Even though his expectations from God had not been met, he did not give up and he still labored for the blessing that God wanted to give. Just about every character in the bible learned this lesson of faith and it’s no wonder you and I must learn of God’s sustaining Grace as well.
No matter who you are, where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you have, you have experienced disappointment. Disappointment occurs when an expectation isn’t met. Disappointment is a part of life that every person deals with. Our kids disappoint us, our spouses disappoints us, our friends disappoint us and we even disappoint ourselves. You may feel disappointed by your pastor, your congregation, your church and you may even feel disappointed by God when you don’t get what you expect or want. It’s a natural human response to feel disappointed when someone lets you down. Unfortunately, this emotion can be a breeding ground for bitterness and resentment and anger and ultimately lead to discouragement to the point where people just want to give up, quit and walk away.
All of us have expectations of other people, ourselves, and even God. When life doesn’t go as we hoped, some degree of disappointment is normal. But if not dealt with it can develop into anger. If we blame God for what we are enduring or going through then our devotion to Him may suffer. We might abandon time alone with Him, we begin to look for excuses and blame others then we get discouraged and eventually give up attending church or look for another because there’s an expectation that wasn’t met and we are disappointed. Ultimately, disappointment has the potential to poison our entire lives. Unless you and I respond to it wisely, we can become overwhelmed by hopelessness, negative attitudes and even depression.
THERE IS ONLY ONE SOLUTION TO ANY DISAPPOINTMENT YOU FACE IN LIFE, IN MINISTRY OR EVEN MARRIAGE. YOU MUST LEARN TO WORK THROUGH AND DEAL WITH DISAPPOINTMENT FIND STRENGTH AND RELIANCE UPON THE LORD AND CONTINUE ON! DON’T GIVE UP! GOD ALLOWS CERTAIN DISAPPOINTMENTS AND THAT’S WHERE EVERY CHILD OF GOD LEARNS, I CANNOT DO THIS IN MY OWN STRENGTH. THERE IS A CURE AND A SOURCE OF ENDLESS ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THOSE WHO WILL WALK WITH THE LORD.
Biblical Examples:
1.       Jonah: Disappointed in God
He mourned over a gourd and deep down He had wanted God to destroy Nineveh
2.       Martha: Disappointed in another person
Felt she didn’t get the help she needed – overworked and failed to focus of Christ
3.       Judas: Disappointed in himself
Realizing he had betrayed the savior of the world He took his own life
THE CURE FOR DISAPPOINTMENT
Psa 121:1 A Song of degrees. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Psa 121:2  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth
1. First, David turned to God with his disappointment
2. Second, David admitted there was a problem
3. Third, David understood that the Lord had allowed the trial he was facing, and there was purpose in it.
4. Fourth, David did not shift his focus away from the Lord
5. Finally, David relied on God and had faith that God would fulfill His promise
WE ALL FACE DISAPPOINTMENT, IT’S HOW WE FACE IT THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE.

“Men who Seek the Face of God”

The following are a few excerpts from a lesson Elder Billy Moran taught at Men’s conference @ Victory MBC. Nov, 2013… 

“Men that ssek the Face of the Lord” – Men who seek to know the will of God, and who desire and work, to achieve the manifest approval of God in what we do… 

Many of our churches are struggling! Attendance is low; few young people attend, if any; pastors are discouraged, and a majority of church members seem satisfied to let the church die. A lot of this responsability rests on the shoulders of us MEN…

COMMITMENT

“Seeking the face of God” requires commitment, and commitment requires self-discipline.
COMMITMENT – fulfilling an obligation that takes our time and energy. It means having an object, purpose, or goal, on which we are focused.
SELF-DISCIPLINE – The ability and the will to do what is necessary or sensible, without needing to be urged by somebody else.
I am acquainted with men who say they have a divine calling from God to preach; yet there is no commitment. They, it appears, have no interest in the work of the church, unless they are given a special invitation to preach.
I am acquainted with Deacons that do not support Sunday School, Sunday night, Mid-week services, or special services announced by the church. Many Baptists show a complete disregard for the church where they hold membership.
Failure to fill our role as men, as husbands, and fathers will, no doubt, have a far -reaching effect, maybe even into eternity. Shirking our duty and responsibility is a poor role model. It says to our family, church is not important, Sunday School is a waste of time.
It also says I’m not all that interested in the salvation of the lost. Most of us have our minds in the short time mode, and don’t worry about the future.
Here is a common testimony; I thank God for my dedicated parents. They took me to church where I heard the truth. I’m so thankful for the old church, I got under conviction and was saved there. I brought my children to church here, too, and they got saved, but they don’t go to church now. I sometimes wonder about my grandchildren, what will happen to them.
The old church sure isn’t what it used to be, not many go there anymore. They may as well close the doors! The women make up most of the crowd. I wonder where the men are?
In Closing: It was Noah who built the ark to the saving of his house. It was Abraham, who followed God by faith, and became the Father of those who have faith. And it was Job, who made sacrifices for his children.
Brethren, let’s get serious about serving God. Jesus said
“Take up your cross DAILY and follow me.” Support your church faithfully; the salvation of your grandchildren and the preservation of the church and the truth depends on us men. God fixed it that way!
Seeking the face of God is an expression which implies an intense desire to hear from God, know His will and sense His awesome presence. Seeking God is a doctrine which is nearly extinct in modern religion. Biblical scholars of our day try to deny and limit personal communion with God because it takes religion out of man’s control. The doctrine of seeking God is perhaps one of the greatest doctrines in all the bible and within the scriptures example after example can be found of people who sought after God.  Seeking God in life means everything else must be forsaken and one must be willing to hear and follow the instruction of God without question. God will never answer anyone who is not willing to follow His will and in fact this may be why some never get an answer. Seeking God is more than just calling on God, simple prayer or asking God for something, it is the earnest plea of the soul towards God and a desperate need for the presence of God to be manifest. Those who will truly and patiently seek God and wait for an answer are a vanishing breed.
While God’s does not act outside the guidelines of His word many have taken the bible and man’s interpretation as the only means of revelation and in doing so they have denied the personal interaction of the true and living God. The root cause of this may be because many may not be truly saved or regenerated and cannot sense the leading of the Savior through the Holy Spirit. Jesus plainly stated in John 10:27 that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.
Seeking God is a requirement in order for anyone to be saved. Obviously seeking for salvation includes the elements of repentance and faith to bring a soul into full submission to God. However, once someone comes into a genuine relationship with the Lord seeking is a perpetual practice. God will lead us through many experiences, trials and difficulties and a regenerate soul should become well acquainted with the seeking process. It’s those times when we step out on our own and realize that we are not moving on the purposes of God that He allows us to fail and reminds us that’s He is in control. The fact that God must be sought also tells us that there must be a conscience and willing effort on our part to know His desire and will for our lives. It’s also important to understand that you can have faith in God’s direction as reveled through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be trusted. If God is leading someone through the Holy Spirit then a prompt response is necessary on behalf of the follower. God does sometimes allow us time be sure and get an answer and no one should act on a whim without being convinced that something is God’s will. Likewise, a delay when knowing God’s will, can also adversely affect the outcome of a situation too. When you are unsure what you are to do then a good rule of thumb would be to stay faithful to the last clear direction that you had from God. Noah labored 120 years to complete his mission of constructing the ark. No doubt he had many dilemma’s and challenges during his journey and those who would be faithful to complete a task are also a rarity in our day.
Seeking God sometimes requires waiting and what we must realize is that sometimes the answer is NO. Paul stated in the book of Acts that he desired to go preach at Bithynia but the Spirit would not allow him. To many times we go to God just to ask Him to approve our plans rather than know what His plans are and people wrongly get the idea that God is some sort of crystal ball they can use to look into the future. God wants us all to live a life of faith. People today can end up in a state of confusion and uncertainty but God’s wants us all to come as a surrendered servant. God doesn’t owe us an explanation for anything and sometimes His directions come on a need to know basis. Remember God is not fickle and He will give you what you need when you need it, just trust Him to do it. Seeking God and His wisdom must come as a priority if we are to walk with God. Go to Him sincerely, without an agenda and with determination to surrender to His will and you will get an answer. We would be hard pressed and downright wrong to try to influence anyone to follow any other source of guidance other than God. He is a personal God and He still leads His children.
1.  Seek God for Salvation
Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
2.  Seek God for guidance in times of decision
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
3.  Seek God in the time of crisis
2 Ki 20:1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
20:2  Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD
4.  Seek God daily; for provisions, instruction and strength
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Prov 8:17  I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

“He Remembers We are Dust”

PSALM 103:14 …“For he knoweth our frame (how we are formed), he remembereth that we are dust”
In Psalm 103 David said that God revealed Himself to Moses and the children of Israel as a compassionate and gracious God, who is slow to anger and through His mercy, He does not give us what we truly deserve. David then explained that the Lord mercifully forgives sins removing our transgression as far as the east is from the west. He also says that the Lord has compassion for He knows how frail the nature of man is and that God remembers we are but dust. Where would we be if it were not for the mercy of God?
People spend a lot of time reasoning about their view of God and some today even foolishly challenge His existence. However, the question that is rarely asked is, what does God really think about you? One of our greatest barriers to a closer relationship with God may be how much “we know” about how much “God knows” about us. God knows the truth about you today, He knows every intricate detail about your life, your thoughts, your weaknesses, and if we think we know the truth about ourselves, think of how much more God knows us!
We can’t fool God. He knows our real hidden motives and every secret sin. He knows the way we really feel, how we complain or what we think about other people. Scary isn’t it? Yet He still loves us.
Have you ever felt disappointed in yourself when it comes to doing God’s will, we might look in the mirror and feel like saying,  I just can’t live this way, or feel disappointed in ourselves? We’ve all probably made excuses: I just can’t be perfect, It’s been a hard week, or a bad month. Truth be known, sometimes we turn from God rather than to him because we know our own hearts all too well and don’t really understand His at all. I probably don’t need to spend any time convincing you that you are a sinner. You probably know the truth about yourself all too well.
Psalm 103 can help us understand how God see’s us. Perhaps no other chapter in the Bible so clearly reveals God’s compassion for his people and that God, all too often, remembers that we are but dust.
NOTICE WHAT PSALM 103 REVEALS ABOUT GOD’S ATTITUDE TOWARD HUMANITY:
1. God Loves to Help the Needy.
(PS 103: 6) The LORD executeth (works) righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
God takes the side of the weak. Our God sees us often as foolish and even helpless. We may think we are strong, we may think we have accomplished something in life or made our own way but we are nothing without God and we are weak in His eyes.
2. God Shows Mercy to Those Who Don’t Deserve It.
(PS 103:8) The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
See the four great attributes of God in this verse:
1)      The Lord is (merciful) compassionate-He pardons us.
2)      The Lord is gracious
-He gives us what we don’t deserve.
3)      The Lord is slow to anger
-He is patient with us when we fall.
4)      The Lord abounds in love
-He loves us more than we can imagine.
Have you made a mistake which you need forgiveness for? God is waiting with open arms. If you would just come to Him in humble repentance He is quick to forgive.
3. He Tempers His Wrath.
(PS 103:9-10) “He will not always chide (accuse), nor will he keep (harbor) his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
How many times has God spared you and forgiven you even when you deserved to be punished?
GOD IS WITH-HOLDING HIS WRATH EVEN TOWARD OUR NATION & THIS PERVERTED GENERATION
2 Pet 3:9 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.
God even blesses those who don’t believe in him.
Mat 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
4. He Forgives All Our Sins.
Psa 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. :12  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
When the Lord really forgives sin it’s gone, there are no records of your forgiven sins. Believers throughout the ages have had cause to rejoice, without forgiveness in the atoning blood of Christ none could stand in judgment before God.
5. He Understands Our Weakness.
(PS 103:13) “As a father pitieth (has compassion) on his children, so the Lord pitieth (has compassion) on those who fear (reverence) him”.
God knows when we are most vulnerable, He knows when we are weak and weary and feel like we can’t go forward, He knows when you feel like you have failed, He knows when YOU feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you feel like crumbling.
ALL THESE BENEFITS ARE UPON THOSE WHO FEAR (REVERENCE) HIM. WE BRING A LOT OF TROUBLES UPON OURSELVES AND SOMETIMES SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. YET, GOD CAN STILL LOOK UPON US WITH MERCY, AND HE IS FAITHFUL AND JUST TO FORGIVE OUR SINS AND CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS BECAUSE OF HIS SON.
6. He Remembers That We Are Dust.
Ps 103:14 “For he knoweth our frame (how we are formed), he remembereth that we are dust
There is nothing we can do about our frailty. We come from the hand of our Creator stamped, “Fragile: Handle with care.” James says we are like a vapor. We are like the dust devils that blow across the desert. We make a big scene and then suddenly we disappear. Try as we might, we can’t cancel our humanity. God changes our spiritual nature but we cannot change what we are. Vitamins and exercise and clean living may slow down the process. Positive thinking may improve our mood. But for all of us, the end is the same: We are going to die
YET HE STILL CHOOSES TO LOVES US
YET HE CONTINUES TO FORGIVE US
BECAUSE HE REMEMBERS WE ARE JUST DUST!!!
1)       Are you weak? So am I.
2)       Are you needy? So am I.
3)       Are you guilty? So am I.
4)       Are you frail? So am I.
5)       Are you like dust? So am I.
6)       Do you need the Lord? So do I.

God says to us, his weak, needy, guilty, frail, dusty children, “I know you through and through, and I love you anyway. Come to me. Rest in me. Make me your Rock.

  • No Time Like the Present

2 Cor 6:2  (…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Procrastination is “the act of willfully delaying the doing of something that should be done,”
WHY DO WE PUT THINGS OFF?
Sometimes, procrastination is the result of laziness, and the Bible has plenty to say about that. It means to postpone or delay needlessly. Procrastination can be a real problem and hindrance to our spiritual life and cause of Christ.
Christian’s should recognize that the root of procrastination isn’t lovable, actually the root goes deep into our sinful heart and is the sin of omission. 

IF WE NEGLECT TO PRAY, OR ENGAGE GOD’S WORD OR REGULARLY SUPPORT OUR CHURCH WE WILL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.
Not commonly known but there is actually a National Association of Procrastinators or (NAP). Their motto is, never put off til tomorrow what you can forget forever! (How many of us ought to join…) However the reality is that when it comes to the things of God procrastination is a sin!
Often the results are devastating –  it significantly affects the fruitfulness and outcome of the Lord’s work
Prov 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
IF THERE IS NO WORK THERE WILL BE NO HARVEST!
LOST PERSONS WHO NEGLECT TO SEEK THE LORD AND BE SAVED WILL DIE AND SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF HELL!!!
This is even more convicting when we realize procrastination isn’t just a lazy person who sits around all day doing nothing. It can also be true of the very busy person whose schedule is full from morning to night. You might think, how could that person be lazy?
Because procrastination isn’t necessarily putting everything off – it might just be putting off the most important tasks all the while doing less important secondary instead!!!
HOW OFTEN DOES GOD PLAY SECOND FIDDLE IN OUR LIVES BECAUSE WE ARE BUSY DOING EVERYTHING ELSE?

A PROCRASTINATOR’S CONFESSION
“I procrastinate. I’ve been doing it most of my life. If a particular task is even remotely unpleasant, my first and persistent tendency is to put it off. It’s not that I’m [idle]; I’m actually very busy. I just wait as long as possible to do the really hard stuff…
Often we are not procrastinators’ but “work-around-ers”, working, but all the while avoiding that one important thing that really needs to be done.
WHAT IF YOU PUT OFF YOUR WITNESS TO LOST SOULS?
WILL THE BLOOD OF SOULS BE UPON OUR HANDS?
Ezek 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
HOW MANY OPPORTUNITIES DO WE MISS AND HOW OFTEN DO WE FAIL TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS OR TRY TO INVITE THEM TO CHURCH?
IS PROCRASTINATION SERIOUS? YES IT IS!!!
IS IT SIN AS WE ARE TAUGHT IN GOD’S WORD…

In the scriptures we find several procrastinators:
1.       There was a young man who told Jesus he would follow Him, only he first needed to tend to family matters
Luke 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Luke 9:60  Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:61  And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
Luke 9:62  And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of Heaven.
WHEN WE PROCRASTINATE ARE WE TELLING THE LORD WE HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO?
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
2.       Many put off doing what God wants because they think they have plenty of time
Mat 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
Mat 24:49  And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
Mat 24:50  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
Mat 24:51  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
·        Time is a valuable commodity. Whether we choose to or not, we are forced to use our time. We cannot save it up or turn it off. God gives you here and now and expects you to use it according to His will and not your own
·          Procrastination is a thief of time that we willingly invite into our lives. Putting things off for another day/time/season is an arrogant way of saying that we are in control of our own future rather than God.
James 4:14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
3. Perhaps the most frightening example is that of Felix, who said in response to Paul’s preaching, “Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me” (Acts 24:25).
Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
**According to history neither Felix nor Drusilla ever found the time or a “convenient season” to come to the Lord!!
Actually Felix was a crook and soon dismissed in disgrace from his office; and Drusilla, with a son by Felix, perished in that eruption of a volcano which engulfed the cities of Pompeii & Herculaneum.
PERHAPS YOU ARE NEGLECTING TO FOLLOWS GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE. MAYBE YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOME OTHER TIME?
YOU HAVE NO SUCH PROMISE OF A TOMORROW.
JONATHON EDWARDS PREACHED LONG AGO STATING MEN WHO DELAY SEEKING GOD HAVE TO PUT HOPE IN SOMETHING AND THAT HOPE IS ALWAYS DEPENDANCE ON ANOTHER DAY! THIS IS A DANGEROUS CONDITION. FOR GOD ONLY GIVES YOU TODAY!!!

 

  • Are You Stuck in a Rut?

Mat 15:6  …Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

The Jews had a lot of rituals, routines and traditions… GOD’S CHOSEN WERE IN A TERRIBLE RUT
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in your walk with the Christ – same place –same thing – same responsibility. But settling into a rut is dangerous. As Will Rogers used to say, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!” Let’s admit it. We like ruts … especially comfortable ones. Predictable and familiar, ruts offer us security. Like a numbing narcotic, however, we waste a lot of our lives “drugged” in ruts.
Those who travel the same roads over and over again, day after day, know that there are times along the road that one snaps out of whatever mental reverie they were partaking in and think to themselves, “How the heck did I get all the way over here already?” Any driver knows that paying attention to other vehicles, signs, lines on the road, and any pedestrians that might enter the roadway, is critical to safe driving. Keeping focused on the task at hand makes it a lot easier to avoid problems
It’s the same for Christians. Maybe they have their pattern of reading their Bible and praying every morning—and that’s a good thing. But, just as in driving, doing the same thing over and over in their walk with God can bring a person to the point where they are reading and praying simply because it’s “what they do.” This allows no room for God to whisper
In pioneer days, thousands of wagons followed the same dirt trail. These wagon trains created such deep wheel ruts that one risked breaking a wheel trying to jump out of the established ruts. Life can feel that way sometimes. We follow the lead of others. We repeat the same routine. We blend in with the crowd.

FOUR EXAMPLES FROM THE BIBLE

1.       There are quite a few examples of people in the Bible who were stuck in a rut. The people of Israel knew all about it as they wandered the wilderness for 40 years, going around in circles, never getting anywhere and becoming thoroughly bored with the same old routine day after day. They longed for some change, even if it was in their diet. Their existence had become boring, routine and aimless. Eventually they would die and be buried in the sand. Their whole existence had become without purpose and meaning while they simply waited to die. Many Christian’s lives are just like that – meaningless, boring and aimless as they simply wait to die.

2.       Samson’s life was exciting and filled with challenges, miracles and blessing until his compromise with the world resulted in him being shackled to the beam which turned the mill stone which ground the corn. Day after day, he literally went around in circles just pushing that piece of timber. Because his eyes had been put out, he could not even get the satisfaction of seeing the corn go in the top and the ground flour come out the bottom. What a contrast to his previous life of excitement when the Lord was still using him.
3.       Jonah 1:3 speaks of the mariners who “rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them.” Yes, they rowed hard, with all their might, for their lives, but got nowhere.
4.       And then there was the prodigal son who exchanged his idyllic life as the son of his father for the boring company of the pigs and the bland diet of empty husks every day.

In the same way many Christians just wander around aimlessly like the people of Israel without hope, purpose or meaning. Others, like Samson, find themselves bound to their habits and lifestyles and even if they wanted to break free, they seem to have no options but remain shackled to their millstones. A few, like the sailors, row with all their might to make some headway, but the winds of circumstances just blow them back to the same place and they too don’t get anywhere in their Christian walk. Others are like the prodigal son, have sunk to the bottom of life and find themselves surrounded by the boring company of pigs and their dirt, eating the unsatisfying scraps of the world.
It seems to me that the majority of Christians find themselves in a rut and even though they go through the motions of being a Christian and following the routine of going to church occasionally, saying their habitual prayers, and reading without seeing are really bored in their relationship with God.
As a result they look to the world for some excitement and purpose to their lives just like the Israelites. No wonder so many just give up on serving the Lord, turn back to the world and surround themselves with the pigs of the world.
Serving the Lord should never be boring and routine. Israel spent 40 years in the desert because they did not believe that God could give them the promised land and because they disobeyed. Samson ended grinding corn because he was disobedient and played with sin. Jonah’s ship made no progress because Jonah was disobedient and chose to go his own way instead of God’s way. And the prodigal son ended amongst the pigs because he was discontent with his father’s provision and his lust for pleasure deceived him into leaving the father’s house.
If your Christian life is in a rut, then it is most likely because we are not following the instruction on God’s word and living selfish lives which is disobedience. It’s as simple as that. If we are living a life of obedience, serving the Lord should be exciting, challenging and anything but routine.
That does not mean it is easy, but easy and boring are synonymous and that’s the problem. We want easy, but complain when it is boring. No-one had a more exciting life than Paul. Look at all his experiences! Yes, many of them where unpleasant, but his spiritual life was exciting as the Lord taught, used, anointed, led and developed him through those very experiences. Every day for Paul was exciting and new – there was no time to become bored or stuck in a routine as he followed and obeyed the Master.

Breaking Free
The good news is you too can break free. The choice is yours. What will it take for you to break free? First, you need to be willing to die. You need to die to your will and your goals and accept the Lord’s will for your life – just like Jonah. You simply cannot have your fleshly life and enjoy an exciting spiritual life. The life of the flesh and the life of the spirit are mutually exclusive. You just cannot have both, you must choose what you want. You can either be surrounded by the pigs of the world and eat the dregs of it, or sit at the Father’s table – you can’t do both. You either have to throw your disobedience overboard or sink.
Being different from the rest requires taking a risk. Jumping out of the ruts means cutting across unfamiliar territory—alone. But you also might experience the joy of seeing things and doing things that others have not done.
What would it take for you to break out of your routine? I bet you’d do it if you found something you were really excited about. If you knew your purpose in life—a special assignment given to you by God—you’d probably be excited about what you could do to fulfill your purpose and the plans God has for you. You might carve out much more spare time than you think you have, just to accomplish something God-sized.
More often than not we are only motivated by difficult circumstances
  • PAIN: Often it’s not “seeing the light” that gets us going, but “feeling the heat.” You delay the dentist appointment until the pain is unbearable. We get in trouble with the Lord before we are willing to change our lifestyles…
  • PRESSURE: When the doctor says “Lose 50 pounds or die,” or the boss says “Improve performance or be fired,” that pressure will motivate you to make a change. The problem with pressure as a motivator is that it doesn’t last. When the pressure subsides, so does your motivation.
  • There is a better motivator- GOD!
STEPS FOR GETTING OUT OF THE RUT
  1. Know His Word. Any worker can make good decisions, but very few make Godly decisions. That’s because so many Christians choose to ignore their spiritual growth and thus leave themselves ill-equipped to make wise choices. Only those who are imbedding the Word of God in their hearts and minds are able to make the leap from good to Godly work. The Bible isn’t a reference document that can be Googled for wisdom. Psalm 119:11; Psalm 119:105
  2. Stop dancing on the edge. A friend of mine regularly warns other Christians against the practice of “seeing how close we can get to sin without really sinning.” Like the teenager who asks how far he/she can go without sinning in matters of sex, the worker who wonders how close to the world they can be has already lost the battle. Romans 12:1-2
  3. Learn to serve and sacrifice for others Humility is a virtue and it also is our proper stance towards our loving God. So, giving to others or giving up something we normally take for granted can humble us and also helps us identify with the less fortunate
Phil 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
  1. Be different. When Medal of Honor winner Navy chaplain Vincent Capodanno was killed tending wounded Marines during a battle in Quang Tin province during the Vietnam War, one of his flock was heard to say somehow he just seemed to act the way a man of God should act.” Jesus calls us to look and act and be different than the other workers in the world. We are not chameleons trying to blend in, but ambassadors called to stand out. Matthew 5:16
  2. Slow down. Stop accelerating – slinging mud
·         Anger
·         Impatience
·         Selfishness
·         Envy
·         Jealousy
·         Bitterness
·         Strife
Are the things that I am doing on the outside a reflection of the    transformation of the inside?) (Romans 12:1-2)
Are the things I’m doing for pleasing God or for pleasing people? (Galatians 1:10)
Do I serve my family, friends and church out of glorifying God or myself? (1 Corinthinans 10:31)
If you’re too busy to pray and read Scripture, you’re too busy. Matthew 6:33 (Change your perspective…)
  1. Listen. Those who always talk are left to rely on their own resources, their own knowledge, their own instincts, their own judgment; and their own wisdom. In short, their narrow-minded and short-sighted. Those who listen to God (instead of always talking to Him) have access to eternal truth. Similarly, those who listen to their coworkers, customers, vendors and suppliers widen the likelihood they have enough information to make smart choices. Proverbs 1:1-33
  2. Acknowledge God for who HE is
·         Our refuge (46:1)
·         Our strength (46:1)
·         A very present help in trouble (46:1)
·         Unchanging (46:2-4)
·         Dwelling Place (46:4)
·         An unmoving, firm foundation (46:5)
·         In the midst of you (46:5)
·         Will help you (46:5)
·         He speaks and the earth obeys (46:6)
·         With us (46:7)
·         Our stronghold (46:7)
  • Will a Man Rob God

Mal 3:8  Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

The Book of Malachi was written to the Israelite’s during the reign of the Persians, around 445 to 432 BC. It had been roughly 100 years or so since the decree of Cyrus allowing those held captive in Babylon to return home. Since that time, the temple had been rebuilt (516 BC; Ez. 6:14-16), and the wall of Jerusalem had been completed yet it was during this time, the time of Malachi, the Jews were moving away from the sin of idolatry, but the sins of apathy and self-righteousness crept in; sins that would plague them even until the time of Christ; the same sins that plague us today. Malachi brings this attitude to the forefront (1:2, 6, 7; 2:17; 3:8, 13).

Consider Malachi’s question “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” The Jews, after leaving idolatry behind, thought they were just fine, but their self-righteous attitude had caused them to not give their best to God their best. They were giving Him leftovers, so to speak; sacrifices and offerings that took as little time and effort as possible, and so were not really sacrifices at all. How often do we go to church and never reverence God or engage in true worship.
This passage of scripture is used by ministers of all denominations to preach about money and tithing… Through the ages, sermons on this passage have caused people to open wide their pocketbooks and give more generously to the church. Tithing is a biblical principal and we are to give God what is rightfully His and shortchanging God will forfeit many blessings in your life… But the overwhelming majority of us are robbing God of spiritual things that are far more important that monetary things. A question I have asked congregations before is why did you come to church this morning? Why did we assemble here in this sanctuary today?
1.       Do we not go to church to worship and glorify God?
2.       Are our spiritual tithes and offerings acceptable or are we too robbing God?

How often have we robbed God of the heart-felt praise and adoration which are vital elements of true spiritual worship and not just offering emotional hype! By neglecting to give God the Glory and Praise that is due Him, we are also robbing ourselves of a deeper and more meaningful communion with the Lord. By abstaining from public worship we are also robbing ourselves from God’s ability to instruct us and bless through the preached word the manifestation of the Holy Spirit through personal public assembly.
Unfortunately, many of us today would answer as the Jews did here, and say “Lord, in what way have we robbed You?,” because we never stop for a moment to examine our lives, and see if we’ve been giving our best to God. Will a man rob God? Yes, sadly we do more often than not
Christians need to realize when assembling weekly for Divine worship we are, in a sense, approaching the very “gates of heaven,” or the very throne room of God… We understand that God is not contained in a building but in our very heart but going to a public place with a sincere desire to worship God has always been his instruction and every worshiper should enter with reverence anticipating God’s presence. If we were to walk in the Holy of Holy’s in Old Testament times,  a place exclusive to the priest who could only enter after purifying themselves, with how much more reverence and humility would we enter? If we regard church as a place to come worship, should we not anticipate the presence of God! Should we walk in joking and laughing with the sin of world all over us and our own pride dripping off of us or should we enter as if we are coming into the presence of God, prepared to enter His presence?
Churches today have lost this sense of Reverence which God demands. When you come to church, do you allow yourself to truly feel God’s intimate presence and stand in awe of His Glory and Majesty? Or rather, has your personal worship fallen from a mountain top experience to a mole hill experience? Are you merely going through the motions without ever really feeling like you are a part of a truly divine worship service with Jesus Christ at the very center? Do you often find yourself leaving church in much the same spiritual condition as in which you came?
·         WHEN YOU COME TO CHURCH WITHOUT ENGAGING CHRIST YOU RECEIVE NO BENEFIT
·         IF HEARTS ARE CLOSED OR ATTITUDES ARE BAD THE WORD PREACHED WILL NOT STIR US
·         IF YOU’RE COMING FOR A SENSE OF OBLIGATION AND NOT A DESIRE TO WORSHIP YOU’VE MISSED THE PURPOSE THE DIVINE ECCLESIA (CHURCH)
Psa 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Why is it we can get to our jobs, get our kids to school and even make it to the hairdresser on time, but somehow we just can’t get motivated to get to church or engage in worship when we get here?
WHAT IS IT THAT IS LACKING? Whole-hearted participation which God not only deserves but requires in this sense we are robbing God
·         ROBBING HIM OF FRUITS OF A MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIP
·         ROBBING HIM OF THE ABILITY TO BLESS US BY LIVING LIVES OF VANITY  AND SIN
·         ROBBING HIM OF THE CHRIST CENTERED WORSHIP HE EVER DESERVES
·         ROBBING HIM OF THE LOVE AND RESPECT HE DESERVES BECAUSE WE LIVE FOR OURSELVES
·         ROBBING GOD OF TIME
i.                     Often our time is not used for God properly.
ii.                   Remember the Sabbath” Give God your time on the Sabbath.
iii.                  Do not neglect the time of your youth.
·         ROBBING HIM OF OUR OWN TALENTS
i.                     All gifts come from God, and should be devoted to God.
ii.                   It is sinful to give our talents to another, by doing so we rob God
·         ROBBING HIM OF HIS PRAISE THE GENUINE PRAISE HE IS SO WORTHY OF!
God did not create us for the purpose of telling Him how great He is all the time, He does not suffer from low self esteem and need us to pick Him up. When we praise God, especially in our worship service, it is not a mere physical or vocal event, IT IS FOR YOUR BENEFIT!!! When we praise the Lord, we are spiritually conditioning and transforming ourselves from the depths of the sinful world coming into the presence of the almighty. Jesus said that we need to worship God in spirit and in truth and it’s only until we come before Him with humility of spirit that He will receive us. Praising the Lord with all of our heart, helps us to build our relationship with Him and overcome the snares of the devil and difficulties of life.
IF YOU WANT YOUR SPIRITUAL HUNGER FILLED START PUBLICLY PRAISING GOD AND DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK, ARE DOING OR ARE NOT DOING…
THIS WHAT CHURCH IS FOR...
Psa 107:8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psa 107:9  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
THIS IS HIS PROMISE:
Mal 3:9  Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Mal 3:10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
  • Following Christ in 2013

Ephesians 3:21  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The challenge of following Christ in every age is a dilemma which always projects new problems. In our age never before has human technology been so advanced, and with such a great capacity of being misused or of leading people astray; ever-new and more amazing inventions, scientific discoveries, and medical advances have convinced growing numbers of people that all the secrets of life will eventually be unlocked, obviating the need for a Creator — if indeed, He exists at all. More than any earlier era of history, ours might be called the “Age of Atheism or Deception,” even though a majority of Americans still claim to believe in God, increasing numbers of people live in a way that suggests His existence has no meaning for them personally and the need of a personal experience with Christ is foreign even to Christianity. A practical denial of God, a refusal to abide by divine law, and a rejection of the moral authority of His Church, all underlie such phenomena as societal disintegration, narcissistic leadership, widespread and even violent youthful rebellion, self-destructive forms of entertainment, and cultural degradation. 

Christians who are genuinely saved and take their faith seriously are not supposed to withdraw from such a world, but to transform it; their influence, example, and prayers are intended to demonstrate God’s love for the world — a love so great that He sent His only Son  to die for its salvation. Fulfilling this mission, however, requires an awareness of the challenges we face — challenges which, while they can only be overcome through divine grace, require us for our part to be as “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16). May our efforts to recognize and overcome the unique spiritual dangers and challenges confronting us help us face the challenges of 2013 and find present day grace for ourselves and our families, our nation, and our Church. Living for Christ is a challenge in every age and the overwhelming illusions of Christianity in 2013 in something every Christian needs to face.

1. Use technology to honor God.
2. Seek to enhance your relationship and devotion toward Christ by regular worship, active public praise, prayer, study and meditation in God’s word.
3. Balance your life to be Christ centered and decrease your focus on the activities of the world.
4. Recognize the things Satan uses to distract you and your family from your service to God and his Church. Don’t be distracted by what others are or are not doing but commit yourself to service.
5. Commit yourself to support your church with prayers, attendance, participation and finances.
6. Be willing to stand for Christ in a society that is increasingly doubting, denying and devaluing the reality of a Christian experience.
7. Live according to the financial plan and stewardship the Christ desires.

Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  • Come Out of the Cave

1 Kings 19:9  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
(Recommending Reading1 Kings chapters 17-19)
Elijah the prophet lived in one of the most difficult times in history. He was called upon to stand for God in a day when it seemed all had abandoned the one true God. King Ahab ruled Israel for 22 years (874-853 b.c.). He was the most wicked king Israel had experienced, even worse than all before him. Ahab followed the sins of Jeroboam and had led the children of Israel away from God toward wickedness to the worship of baal even marrying the pagan princess, Jezebel, who promoted this idolatry even murdering the prophets and priest of God. What a scene it must have been when Elijah first faced the king Ahab and Jezebel. A rough man of the desert with a `cloak of animal skins and a leather girdle’, strides into the palace with the unwelcome prophecy of drought, famine, and hardship to come. Three years of drought, and then the showdown on Mount Carmel as he faces the priests of Baal – which of course the apostate king and his heathen queen also worshiped. God had empowered the prophet and the prophets of baal were slain. The queen issued a death sentence and Elijah, being pursued, ran for his life. He found himself feeling defeated and alone in a cave begging to die and back in Israel paganism reigned supreme and there was still a price on his head. He had failed; where could he go, what could he do, what would become of him? He wailed to the Lord in an agony of doubt and despair, too low to respond even to the still small voice. 1 Ki 19:14  And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (15)  And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
God shows up and said what are you doing here? God doesn’t offer sympathy or a pat on the back to poor pitiful Elijah but he says get up out of your old funky cave and serve me. I have more work for you to do. There were no soothing words of reassurance but precise directions. Elijah the hunted, the fearful and depressed was to go back the way he had come, trusting God to foil Jezebel’s spies and hatchet-men and continuing north, right on to Damascus. There he was to do new work for his Lord, appointing rulers ready to take over when the time came and anointing Elisha to be his helper and, in due course, his successor. He was to be part of God’s plan for the future and the messiah that was to come, this was what God wanted, so he arose and went.
How often do we wallow in our own self pity and despair or throw up our hands and say what’s the use. God requires the same thing from us that He required from Elijah. Get out of our caves and go on serving Him. Faithfulness is the grand enduring mark of a child of God. Even when things appear dismal or hopeless that’s no excuse to give up the fight. Elijah thought he was all alone yet God showed him there were others that had the same desire, even 7,000 men in Israel that were still faithful to God. Even though we do not live in violent days as Elijah there is a spiritual battle that is just as fierce and God needs every born again Christian to stand true and remain faithful. Faithful to God’s cause, faithful to God’s church and faith to your brothers and sisters in the Lord. Many are struggling and see the problems of our day and maybe it’s time to get our heads out of the cave and move on the purposes of God together.
1)    What Elijah Saw:
Israel was in a state of apostasy (falling away) as never before. Friends we are blind if we do not see that the Christians of our day are far removed from the level of devotion we should be.  The American lifestyle has degraded Christian life to the point that many are blind to apostasy that has overtaken us and the Lord’s church. Even in this age of apostasy and deception I still believe there are many who love the Lord (who have not bowed a knee to baal) and want to serve Him.
1 Ki 19:18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
2)    What Elijah did:
He stood for God when others would not. He was bold and obedient despite the spiritual conditions and numerous hardships. Even this prophet got weary from the battle yet his key to success was faithfulness. He left his cave and went back once again to anoint the next king and the prophet that would follow.
3)    What the Lord did:
The Lord took Elijah straight into Heaven. Jezebel, nor anyone else, took his life for his life was in the hands of the Lord.
2 Ki 2:11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
ELIJAH’S FAITH WAS DEMONSTRATED BY HIS ACTIONS AND ELIJAH ACTED ON GOD’S COMMAND NOT HIS FEELINGS:
1.       Change the way you think and God will Change the way you feel!!!
2.       Change the way you act or react
a.       Do what is right, no matter how you feel!
John 13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
b.       If you say you must feel good before doing what is right, you have made your feelings into an idol.
3.       Know that God has the answers
2 Pet 1:3 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:
4.       Know that with God there is always hope
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
5.       Know that with God, problems have purpose
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
6.       Focus on praise and thanksgiving rather than circumstances (Ephesians 5:18-20)
7.       Apply your efforts to finding Biblical Solutions for your dilemmas
REMEMBER SATAN’S ATTACK IS IN THE MIND
QUESTION: Matthew 26:38-39 – Did Christ feel like dying on the cross?
No, He didn’t feel like dying on the cross but His goal was to be obedient to the Father. If He had not died on the cross, we would all be doomed to eternal destruction
The God of Elijah is the one that makes a way where there is no way. He’s the God that sent down the fire. He made a path where no path could be seen. He is the God that multiplies with nothing. He is the God that brings the visible out of the invisible. He is the God that provided for His people by humanly impossible means. The Lord God of Elijah is the one true God.
NOW MORE THAN EVER WE NEED TO UNITE FOR THE GOOD OF THE CAUSE AND REMAIN FAITHFUL. GOD HAS A PURPOSE AND HIS PURPOSE IS SOULS!!!
  • Atheist, Skeptics and False Believers

The bible says the fool has said in his heart there is no God. Of a truth, salvation does NOT exist outside the realms of the one true Savior. Your philosophies will be your destruction. Your ideologies will lead you to spiritual death. Even religion is dead without the life giving savior. As moral as you may be, without a savior you will perish. One can only deny God and the Savior Jesus Christ because they do not “KNOW” him. If YOU do not know him as savior and Lord you are lost and yet in your sins. Your morality cannot save you. You belittle religion as empty hope for the simple minded yet in your knowledge you have failed to find the one of whom the ancients wrote. You take the bible as a literary work and for a moment you are right. Yet it is the one of whom the bible proclaims that you do not see. The one for whom millions have died. Why? Why would men not cease to proclaim “Him”? Why would they go to their graves refusing to deny Him? They knew Him personally and experimentally. They came to Him broken in faith and the very moment salvation appeared their lives were changed. Their soul found fulfillment given directly by the creator. In our day philosophies and religions are dead but there is a savior who gives life. God has given you an inkling to know him, a conscience that bears witness to his truth yet you still deny the God in Heaven.  The “FOOL” has said in his heart here is no God! You can proclaim to deny God, not believe in religion or eternal punishment but this does not change the fact that God has revealed His truth to all mankind.

MAYBE YOU GO BEYOND MORALITY OR ATHEISM  - YOU MAY BE RELIGIOUS-BUT LOST
The spiritual and moral condition that is facing every individual, philosopher and every “CHURCH MEMBER” is this: “Are you saved?” or “Have you been born again?” or “Do you know Christ?
Just because a person is religious, it is no sign that he or she is saved. Satan has pulled this blindfold over the eyes of the average individual, and that is, that every individual who is religious is saved, but let me say with all the emphasis of my soul that, just because a person is a preacher, a Bible teacher, or an outstanding member of a given church, it is no evidence at all that such a person is saved. Many are offended if you asked such personal spiritual questions. The religious world cannot face this one central truth, “Do you know Christ?” I have received such answers as these:
“Well, I hope so. I think so. Well, I hope I am saved. You know, I have been a member of a church for so many years and have been faithful in my attendance.” Or, “I have served in such and such capacities in my church.” Will you let me be frank with you? Such answers betray the emptiness of human hearts and reveal a profession without possession, religion without life, and church membership without regeneration, because every saved person knows that he is saved and can tell when he was saved, where God saved him, what he was saved from, and what he was saved to. Now, you drive a peg down and hold that, my friends.
Then, on the other hand, when we observe the average church in America today as we look in upon her worship, her prayer meetings, her committee meetings, and her social groups, what do we find? There is one thing we do not find, and that is, whatever group you may observe, they are not taken up with Christ, and they are not talking about Him. Then, what are they doing? They are planning programs, they are talking about what they have accomplished, or they are talking about their social life, or they may be talking about their mission work. The whole thing can be summed up in this statement: They are doing, doing, doing, and this is the form of their religion. You walk up to the average church on a Sunday morning or Sunday evening, and visit with the different groups as they gather before services or in their Bible classes, they are not talking about Christ. I’ll go a step further, you meet the average group of preachers at a pastor’s conference, or any other meeting, and they will be talking about many things that go to make up the sum total of their lives socially, religiously, and from a business viewpoint, but they are not talking about Christ. And if you want to scatter them, you just start talking about Christ and praising the Lord Jesus Christ for His wonderful works of redemption, and they all have business somewhere else. I have not found this condition in just one section of our nation, but I have found it across the nation from coast to coast.
Then, when we look at the moral condition of the average church today, it is appalling to see the hypocrisy, the drunkenness, gambling, profanity, adultery, Sabbath-breaking that is practiced by a good percentage of our church folks, and even among the officials. As a result of all this, I have been asked the question many times, “What percentage of church members are saved?” My answer usually is, “I do not know.” I have ventured the opinion that if 5% of church membership in America is saved, that is a large percentage. So you see, if only 5% of our church membership witness about Christ, that is the only percentage of our church that could be saved, and no doubt among that number are many who do not know anything about the new birth experimentally. It’s an awful day in which we are living. Religious–but lost!
I want to raise some questions with you. First, is it possible for an individual to be religious and yet lost? Let’s see what the Lord Jesus said about it in Matt. 7:21-23. Listen to God’s Word,
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils (demons)? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Here Christ is talking about preachers, Bible teachers, and He states plainly that it is possible to be religious and yet lost, because He says, “Not everyone who is religious or names the name of the Lord will be saved.” Then He uses a very startling word in that twenty-second verse when He says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord.” The word “many,” when used to refer to a class (as it is used here) means “the vast majority.” So the Scripture could read like this, “Many (the vast majority) will say to me in that day.” Yes, “The vast majority of preachers, Bible teachers, will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not preached in Thy name? have we not built wonderful churches? have we not had multitudes of professions?’ but you will have to hear Me say, ‘I never knew you. I’ve never met you in the new birth; I’ve never met you in repentance; I’ve never met you at the Mercy Seat. You never came pleading the blood for remission of sins. So depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity.’ Isn’t that an awful picture that our Lord gives us that the vast majority of our preachers and teachers in these closing days of the church age will be found without Christ in reality as their Lord and Saviour!
Now, this brings us to our next question I raise, “What is religion, and what about religious experiences?” We hear much about religion today, and that we are all going to Heaven, but by different routes. My friend, there is no such doctrine taught in God’s Word. Religion is man’s opinion, and there are new religions being born almost every day based upon man’s opinion. Man’s opinion is what he worships, as he knows nothing about the true God and the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. There is a vast difference between religion and Christ. Christ is our life (Col. 3:4). Religion is your opinion. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12). Religion or religious experiences is not life.
Life is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me state frankly this great eternal fact: All religious experiences do not come from God. I do not care how sincere you are in your religious experience. I don’t care how real it is to you. All religious experiences do not come from God! Satan works and moves in the realm of religion, and he moves upon the mind of the individual. His one purpose is to imitate true salvation in the form of a religious experience. Satan apes God in giving you religious experiences that he may get you to worship him. Now, you hold this fact: Satan can duplicate almost any type of religious experience except life. Satan works in the realm of the mind and never touches the spirit of man, but the sinner never knows that because his spirit is dead and hid in darkness, and is alienated from the life that is in God through Christ. These experiences are so real; Satan appears as an angel of light to you, and makes you believe that they come from God, and you will tell them as coming from God. If you would ever come to know Christ experimentally, you would know what I’m talking about. Now, let me say something here, and you hold it: There is no type of religious experience before you are saved or after you are saved that will ever eclipse Christ in salvation, and when once God saves you in Christ, then you will talk about Christ. You will magnify the Lord Jesus Christ; you will exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, and all types of religious experiences will fall in the background, and the glories of Christ will overshadow everything else in the way of religion or religious experiences.
Then another reason why it is so hard for unsaved religionists in churches to be saved is that they are deceived and have the wrong concept of salvation, for they believe that they are saved by doing. They’ll tell you, “I’m living the best I can, and I believe when I die, the Lord will overlook all my mistakes and take me on to Heaven.” What an awful state that Satan has a poor, lost soul in! Man by nature is deceived. Satan has him deceived, and he does not want that individual awakened to the fact that he is deceived. It is only the power of God that can awaken that individual to his state of deception. The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Triune God, must take the Word of God and lay bare that soul, and make it alive, opening his understanding, which is darkened, opening his blinded eyes to see and his darkened heart to believe.
Then another reason it is so hard for a lost church member to be saved is that many think they know so much about the Word of God and their knowledge puffs them up, and being deceived, they cannot be shown the way of salvation. Being in that state of deception, they are self-satisfied, and like a man freezing to death, they want to be let alone. They do not want to be disturbed from their self-satisfaction. Their cry is, “Let me alone! Go on and let me alone. I have my religion; I’m satisfied. Just let me alone!” The only thing God has to do for you to go to Hell is just let you alone. I never let my people alone. I don’t care how much the world or the church criticizes me: I never take anything for granted from a single member of my church, or anyone that I have an opportunity to deal with, or that God has made me overseer of as their bishop or their shepherd.
Now, why? You are sleeping the sleep of death and don’t know it. May the Holy Spirit at this moment strike terror to your heart and awaken you to the fact of your lost, ruined, undone condition and turn you in search of Christ as the Lord and Saviour of your soul. You are in an awful shape. May the God of all grace have mercy on you and call you forth from the dunghill of the world and let you see your lost condition.
If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true sketch of thine end.
You may be a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter. Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up Crying, “O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?” “Yes, he is coming.” The minister comes. “Sir, I fear that I am dying!” “Have you any hope?” “I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; Oh! pray for me.” The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him; but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again. But where is the man, and where are the man’s true eyes? It is written, “In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings. Let the Saviour’s own words reveal the woe: “Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah’s wrath!
DON’T LET YOUR PHILOSOPHY OR RELIGION LEAD YOU TO HELL!
  • A Soldier Called Home

(Dedicated in loving memory to the late Elder William House)
1 Timothy 5:17  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
Our deepest respects and condolences go out to the House family in their recent loss. Our continued prayers will be offered up.
Those that knew Elder William House knew first of all that he loved the Lord, God’s people and the church. At the age of 88, brother House has gone home to be with the Lord. He pastored several churches and has been faithful to God and the Lord’s Church. He was a man that was worthy of respect in the Lord’s work. I’ve known brother House and his family for a long time but over the past year I became closer to him as he regularly visited Grace. Brother House was one who didn’t hesitate to tell you what he thought was right and perhaps some perceived his directness as offensive, but after coming to know him I realized his only motive was love and encouragement.  He had a strong desire to help the church and her ministers and I believe he recognized some elements that have gone awry since his day. Brother House shared many stories and experiences with me and the Lord allowed me to glean a little insight from our recent past.
· We are losing the closeness and accountability that existed among elders in recent years.
I’m thankful for my pastors that I had and their examples of teaching and dedication but I fear many of our ministers today are victims of our society and there is a lack of respect and patience in the ministry. Brother House’s stories of his mentors who reprimanded him in love are examples that are few and far between in 2012. We need the brotherhood and there needs to be a period of training and submission in every preacher’s ministry. Pastoral training is vital, for a man needs to be prepared in his service to God and the qualifications given in Timothy are proof. One particular story of brother House was a meeting of Elders that was called years ago to deal with a specific problem in the churches. The spirit of God meet with this group and the Lord gave the viable solution. There are also biblical examples of this process. We need greater love, communication and co-operation among the brotherhood today.
· Allow God to govern your ministry and pastorate.
Brother house gave God the glory in all things and instructed others to seek God’s guidance in every situation. He dealt very boldly and specifically with various problems and situations but never approached one problem, no matter how complicated, without seeking the wisdom of God.
· Brother Houses last public sermon:
Elder William House’s last public sermon was preached at Grace in 2011 and the Lord greatly blessed him. The title was “Jesus Passed By” taken for John 9. But I feel compelled to share this experience that occurred just a few weeks ago. Brother House was visiting Grace Jan 29, 2012 after recovering from a recent hospital stay and at the end of a spiritual service he spoke with his eyes filled with tears. He told of a recent dream in which he awoke with the most beautiful sermon placed upon his heart. In his spiritual mind he had just preached his last sermon unto the Lord. As the Lord struck me with a solemn reverence for the ministry I knew and brother House knew “this” was his last sermon. What a beautiful testimony for a faithful servant. Today he’s rejoicing and his journey on earth is completed. Thank God for faithful servants who have plowed the gospel plow and remained true to the cause. THERE IS NO GREATER ACCOMPLISHMENT IN LIFE.
“LET THE ELDER’S THAT RULE WELL BE COUNTED WORTHY OF DOUBLE HONOR.”
  • Forfeited Blessings

Numbers 13:30  And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
In the Numbers 13-14 the children of Israel were encamped at Kadesh-Barnea on the brink of attaining everything God had promised. The blessings of God were available and attainable. Moses instructed each tribe to supply a spy to explore the land of Canaan. Their mission was clear: spy out the land to see its bounty and access the enemy for the purpose of forming a battle plan. The spies returned with samples of the fruit of the land. It was just as God promised, a land flowing with milk and honey (rich vegetation & orchards good to support a nation numbering over 1 million people).  Joshua and Caleb had said let’s go up at once. We can take it, surely God is with us… But all of the others feared and gave negative reports, saying we will surely die.
Rather than trusting God the people listened to the negative reports and started to murmur or complain.  Having seen the miracles of God in Egypt they still said Moses had brought them out into the desert to die! They cried let’s choose another leader to take us back to Egypt and took up stones and began to throw them at Moses and Aaron.
God appeared unto Moses and said I’ll destroy this people and make another nation of you, but Moses interceded and begged God not to destroy the Israelites. God pledged to forgive the people but pronounced that the entire adult generation which refused to follow Him would die in the desert and their carcasses would fall and for forty year the judgment of God would be upon them. Only Joshua and Caleb would be allowed to enter the promised land because they stood for the Lord.
·         How many people today come to the brink of God’s blessings but forfeit the good things God has to offer?
·         How many trade the blessings of God for the things of the world which can never satisfy the soul?
·         How many churches would God bless and prosper if they would simply take advantage of the opportunities available?
Forfeit – something that is lost or taken away because of a crime, offense, neglect of duty, or breach of contract
·         WHAT CAUSED THE ISRAELITES TO FORFEIT GOD’S BLESSING?
1) Lack of Faith
How many times would God bless us if we would just trust Him
Quit trying to fix ourselves and trust God to do it…
·         WHAT CAUSED THEIR FAITH TO FAIL? “FEAR”
They saw the “giants” and fortified cities and they thought that they could not conquer them.
THEY WERE RIGHT! THEY COULDN’T – JOSHUA AND CALEB RECOGNIZED THEY HAD GOD ON THEIR SIDE
Mat 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
Mat 19:26  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Ø  Is it not the same with us today? Too often we see the giants in our life and say what’s the use, I’m already defeated
Ø  Faith tells the story of those who trusted God against overwhelming circumstances
Ø  Unbelief builds a wall which shuts out our blessings.  Christians miss God blessings when they fail to act!!!
Ø  When Jesus came to Nazareth His work was hindered – He wanted to save and heal but He could not…
Ø  God wants to bless you, He wants to sustain you in your trials and He wants to teach you but you have to trust Him in spite of your circumstances!!!
·         THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK IS OFTEN RESTRICTED BY US!!!
Mark 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
JESUS WEPT FOR THOSE WHO REJECTED HIM…
2) Disobedience
What brought the judgment of God? DISOBEDIENCE
Their wilderness wanderings are a frightening picture of a restless, aimless, and unsatisfied life.
·         FORFEITING GOD’S BLESSINGS IS LIVING A LIFE THAT IS:
1. Restless – because the tents were constantly being moved one place to another Never in the place they were supposed to be – ALWAYS LOOKING FOR SOMETHING ELSE
2. Aimless – because they wandered around in the wilderness achieving nothing
(A LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST HAS NO AIM, NO GOAL AND IS WASTED – HOW MANY WASTED YEARS HAVE WE SPENT?)
3. Unsatisfied – because they were always moving, but never getting anywhere, never achieving anything
·         CHRISTIANS OFTEN FORFEIT GOD’S BLESSING
*HOW MANY TIMES DO PEOPLE LOOK FOR HELP ONLY IN CRISIS?
THE ANSWER THEY WERE SEARCHING FOR HAD BEEN AVAILABLE ALL ALONG YET IT HAD BEEN FORFEITED!!!
1) When We Neglect His Word – Forfeiting God’s truth
To neglect the word is to miss a large part of God’s will for our lives. Without the word your spiritual live will soon die.
2) When We Neglect Fellowship  (with God or each other) – we forfeit Godly communion
WHEN A CHURCH NEGLECTS RESPONSABILITIY THEY ARE FORFEITING THE BLESSINGS OF SOULS AND THE PROSPERITY OF THE CHURCH
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Heb 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
THERE IS A LAND THAT FLOWETH WITH MILK AND HONEY LET US NOT FEAR BUT HAVE FAITH TO TAKE THE PROGRESSIVE STEPS TO REACH SOULS!!!
  • Doing Missions Baptist Style:

By Bill J. Leonard
Jointly published by the Baptist History and Heritage Society and the William H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society
The earliest Baptists did not send out official missionaries, but they understood themselves to be on mission. They insisted that all believers were witnesses to the grace of God and that church membership was extended only to those who could testify to a work of grace in their hearts. Some seventeenth-century Baptists actually practiced the laying on of hands at baptism as a sign that all believers were ordained to take the gospel to their particular part of the community. Thus, for Baptists, the concept of missions exists within the concept of the church’s mission.
When the church teaches, preaches, baptizes, celebrates the Supper, or serves the faithful and the unfaithful, it carries out the mission of Christ. Jesus reminded his earliest followers that when they cared for “one of the least of these,” they had offered care to Christ himself (see Matt. 25). The church’s calling is to be on mission in all it says and does.
A Theology for Missions
The mission of the church is to make known the good news of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and teaching in the world. This mission is inseparable from evangelism and the need for a regenerate (converted) church membership.
Early Baptists told the Jesus story unashamedly, calling persons to saving faith. The mission of Baptists in the 1600s seems to have been to call people to faith, and to encourage them to see Baptist views as the most biblical way of understanding Christian life and practice. They founded churches, urged sinners to experience God’s grace in Jesus Christ, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and celebrated worship, all as part of their missionary imperative. Yet, that mission also made them forceful advocates for religious liberty and the concept of a believers’ church.
Many, though not all, Baptists participate in the church’s mission because:
·         They believe that it is central to the teachings of the New Testament.
·         They believe all Christians are called to participate in the church’s mission, wherever they may be.
·         They believe that the calling to make disciples is essential to the gospel message.
·         They believe that the church’s mission is a response to the whole person, offering the word of salvation and liberation, as well as tangible responses to human suffering and need.
The first Baptists were convinced that all Christians were missionaries, sent out to speak and live the words and deeds of Christian ministry in the world around them. Long before Baptists sent missionaries to foreign lands, they understood that all baptized believers were to live as witnesses to the faith and compassion of Christ. At their best, Baptists have understood the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 as a mandate to make disciples wherever they might be found.
Religious Liberty
One of the earliest missions undertaken by Baptists involved the quest for complete religious liberty. The first Baptists in Amsterdam and London made no secret of their determination to secure religious freedom not only for themselves but for all persons, Christian and non-Christian alike.
Indeed, THOMAS HELWYS’S famous treatise, The Mystery of Iniquity, published in the early 1600s, was the first work in English to call for religious freedom for both believer and non-believer. Helwys insisted that God alone was judge of conscience and the state could not judge the heretic or the atheist. All persons were answerable to God alone for the faith they did or did not have.
Helwys and other British Baptists addressed their writings on liberty to the monarch, encouraging the “powers of the world” to recognize the right of human beings to stand before God alone on the basis of their response to God’s good grace. The call for radical religious liberty may have been one of the earliest expressions of Baptist missions to the powers that be. This mission produced extensive persecution against Baptists and other dissenters in England and also in America, but ultimately the Baptist vision of freedom prevailed.
The call for liberty of conscience and freedom of worship was a consistent mission of Baptists in the 1600s and 1700s. That grand missionary effort should not be ignored in our attempt to understand the missionary identity of the people called Baptists.
Arminians and Calvinists
Baptists often disagreed among themselves about the nature of the Christian mission and the divine plan for converting sinners. General and Particular Baptists took different approaches.
General Baptists, who began in Holland in 1609, were Arminians in theology, supporting the views of Jacob Arminius, the Dutch reformer. They believed that Christ died for all persons and that all who came to God by repentance and faith would be saved.
Particular Baptists, who began in England in the 1630s, were Calvinists who subscribed to the teaching of the Genevan reformer John Calvin. They believed that all persons were totally depraved and had no ability to move toward God until God had “infused” the grace to believe. Though all were depraved, God in mercy had “elected” some persons for salvation before the foundation of the world. Those persons would ultimately be drawn to salvation by the irresistible grace of God. All others would follow their destiny of depravity to reprobation and damnation. That God should choose any was an overwhelming gift of grace.
Yet, Calvinist Baptists were divided over the question of human participation in the divine mission. Some insisted that God would save the elect without the help of human beings. Thus, since God would ultimately save those who were elected to salvation, the church was not called to send out missionaries. Indeed, attempts through “human endeavors” to bring sinners to salvation actually represented a form of “works righteousness” outside the divine plan.
Other Calvinist Baptists thought that the church was called to proclaim the gospel as a means of awakening the elect to faith. Preaching to sinners and going out to the ends of the earth were part of the calling of all Christians. Preaching would awaken the hearts of the elect, a community of faith known only to God. These evangelical Calvinist Baptists thus preached as if everyone could be saved, knowing that God would use their preaching of the gospel to awaken the elect. They were among the first Baptists who actually sent out missionaries from western Europe to other regions of the globe.
Early in their history, Baptists disagreed over both the need and method of sending out missionaries in Christ’s name. These differences have shaped Baptist attitudes toward missions throughout their history.
Early Baptist Missions
Some of the first Baptist missionary activity occurred in the 1630s and 40s in the New World as Baptists founded churches and carried out ministries to European immigrants and Native Americans. ROGER WILLIAMS, occasional Baptist and founder of Rhode Island, worked with the Narragansett Indians, even producing A Key to Language of America, a lexicon of their language to aid in communication. Such endeavors with Native Americans often were short-lived, however, frustrated by disease, misunderstanding, and warfare. Baptist activities with the settlers also met with persecution from religious establishments in New England and Virginia.
Baptists in those regions were jailed, exiled, beaten, and otherwise harassed by religious establishments which sought to protect citizens from what they felt were the heretical views of the Baptists. Roger Williams himself was exiled to Rhode Island where he founded the first Baptist church in America around 1638/39. Rhode Island provided for complete religious liberty and became its own kind of missionary community, receiving those who had been exiled or persecuted by the Puritan Establishment of New England.
The First Great awakening of the 1740s created missionary enthusiasm among evangelicals throughout the colonies, including the fledgling Baptist churches. Pro-revival or Separate Baptists demonstrated both evangelical and missionary zeal in efforts to proclaim the faith in new regions of the American land. SHUBAL STEARNS, DANIEL MARSHALL, and their families left New England for the new American frontier, founding churches in North Carolina and preaching the gospel to all who would listen.
Separate Baptists were evangelical Calvinists, “hot gospellers,” who preached enthusiastic sermons, calling sinners to repentance, with energy and emotional zeal. They established churches across North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana-an impressive missionary network that helped make Baptists one of America’s largest denominations by the 1830s.
These Baptists also began to found colleges as part of their missionary efforts to provide Christian education in a new nation. Soon, Baptist schools sprang up throughout the country.
The Development of Mission Societies
The formation of Baptist denominational organizations really originated as a way of enabling individuals and congregations to carry out their missionary imperative in broader ways. The modern missions movement among Baptists began in the 1790s in Britain with the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society and the decision to send WILLIAM CAREY and other individuals to India. Carey, although a Calvinist, believed that the New Testament required Christians to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
In the United States, Baptists formed the Triennial Convention in 1814 for the purpose of funding the work of ADONIRAM and ANN JUDSON, Congregational missionaries who had become Baptists on their way to Burma. These organizations were followed by other agencies which promoted publication of Christian literature, Christian education, social ministries, and other resources for Christian nurture. These nineteenth-century Baptists sent missionaries to work at home and abroad, but they also founded schools, published books and pamphlets, and carried out benevolent work with those in need. All of this was part of their sense of mission.
The denomination was a means of uniting Baptist churches in mission projects which they could not accomplish alone. Indeed, the official missionaries who were sent out not only founded churches and preached the gospel; they also established schools, translated the Bible, and offered food and medical care. The early Baptist missionaries were an amazing group of individuals, convinced that God had called them to travel to new lands or regions in spite of the terrible dangers. Most had little training before they departed their native lands, and many died almost immediately after arrival, worn out by travel and susceptible to diseases for which they had no immunity.
The women seemed particularly courageous and vulnerable, often losing infants in childbirth. Many died themselves. SARAH HALL BOARDMAN JUDSON (d. 1845), the second wife of Adoniram Judson, gave birth to seven children in less than eight years, dying with the birth of her last child. Even when children survived, they were often lost at sea on their way to and from the mission field. Most seemed well aware of the dangers. CHARLOTTE WHITE, the first unmarried woman to apply for appointment by the Triennial Convention in 1815, wrote of her calling: “Having found no period of life exempt from trials, I do not expect to leave them on leaving my native land, but rather to add to their weight and number.”1
The Baptist women were often unsung, but amazing in the depth and breadth of their work and witness. ELIZA GREW JONES accompanied her husband to Burma in 1830 where she produced a Siamese-English dictionary as well as an Anglicized version of the Siamese language. Baptist women also encouraged missionary support among those who remained at home. MARY WEBB (1779-1861) was a Baptist woman who had significant physical disabilities and a strong concern for the missionary enterprise. She was a leader in founding the Boston Female Missionary Society in 1800, a joint venture between Baptist and Congregational women. The society was composed of women who were willing “to contribute their mite toward so noble a design as diffusion of the gospel light among the shades of darkness and superstition.”3
Baptists began missions to the Cherokees in the 1820s when THOMAS ROBERTS and EVAN JONES initiated work in Georgia. Cherokee leaders responded favorably, with particular concern for education. One Native American told the Baptists: “We want our children to learn English so the white man cannot cheat us.”6
Organizing for Missions
Mission societies and boards were one way that Baptists sought to organize for service. In many ways, these agencies grew out of the realities of church size and economics. In both England and America, the early Baptists were not numerous enough, and their churches were not large enough, to fund missionary endeavors. Thus, they pooled their resources to provide adequate funding.
Societies were the earliest organizations with money subscribed by individuals, associations, and churches. Societies were autonomous, providing support for specific efforts of home or foreign missions. The Triennial Convention of 1814 was such a society. When the Southern Baptist Convention was founded over the slavery controversy in 1845, it developed a connectional system in which mission boards and other denominational agencies were linked through the denominational network.
Antimission Baptists opposed any type of missionary effort, insisting that God alone was the author of salvation and would bring redemption to the elect without human intervention. These views are evident today in the beliefs of the Primitive Baptists and the Old Regular Baptists. They reject missionary activity, viewing it as an interference in the divine plan and activity.
Other independent and Landmark Baptist churches rejected the use of mission societies or boards as unbiblical, preferring, instead, to send out missionaries under the direct support of specific congregations. Debates over mission methodology raged throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Baptist churches and denominations alike. Those who claim that all Baptists have always been a missionary people need to look more closely at the diversity of Baptist opinion on the matter.
In spite of these divisions, missionary-minded Baptists have long stressed the importance of that activity in Baptist life. In 1824, Baptist leader FRANCIS WAYLAND (1796-1865) addressed the importance of Baptist unity in the missionary effort. He wrote: “It is the duty of each of us as individuals, to do all in our power to promote the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom. . . . We do not want to abridge the liberties of any individual church. These we hold sacred, and we always shall hold them so; but we want them to assist us, and want to assist them, in all the plans that they or we may devise for promoting the salvation of our fellow men. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Why should we not unite all efforts together, and thus do our utmost to promote the cause of Christ in the United States, and throughout the world?”7
By the late nineteenth century, African American Baptists had formed their own denominations with a significant emphasis on missionary activity. LOTT CAREY and GEORGE LISLE were among the first African American missionaries to be sent out. Carey went to Africa; Lisle was sent to the Caribbean.
Transitions, schisms, and other changes in contemporary Baptist life have compelled many churches and denominations to reevaluate their response to the theology and practice of the Christian mission. Baptist denominations continue to send out vocational missionaries, those who have committed themselves to full- time, perhaps even lifetime, participation in the missionary enterprise at home and abroad.
Other missionary experiences, many short-term, are also available to laity and clergy through Baptist church life. Indeed, it appears that a growing number of Baptist churches are using mission funds to send their own members on short-term missionary excursions far and near. These activities have expanded the experience and the numbers of persons on mission as perhaps never before in the history of the church.
Likewise, denominational missionary agencies have become, for many congregations, one of multiple options for carrying out the calling to mission. Many churches now fund and participate in denominational programs as well as in a variety of other community, parachurch, or independent missionary actions. Habitat for Humanity, for example, is one of the nonsectarian, humanitarian programs that has drawn persons inside and outside Baptist churches to a particular type of hands-on missionary experience.
While the Southern Baptist Convention continues to maintain one of the largest missionary task forces in American Protestantism, new Baptist societies such as the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have also sprung up, each with varying forms of missionary organization and activity. Likewise, the Baptist General Convention of Texas is fast moving to develop new global missionary outreach carried out through a regional Baptist state convention. Some of these Baptist groups are also beginning to discuss missionary alliances with the American Baptist Churches, USA, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
Mission Practice/Mission Theology
All this illustrates the need for and presence of a variety of new missionary networks springing up inside and alongside certain traditional denominational programs. It also indicates that Baptists may well need to reflect anew on the theology and practice of missions even as they reaffirm their commitment to the church’s missionary calling. Why is such a reexamination necessary?
First, globalism – an interconnectedness of communications, nations, and peoples-means that countries or distance can no longer define missions. One need not go to distant climes to encounter Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists. They may well live across the street. In certain geographic areas, the Christian and Baptist presence may well be more energized than in the United States. Persons in countries to which Baptists in the U.S. and Europe once sent missionaries now come as missionaries to the West.
Second, the ever-expanding numbers of interfaith marriages now bring many Baptist families into direct contact with religious traditions that once seemed foreign. These changing family dynamics mean that religious diversity can become very personal very quickly in ways that affect the missionary response of local congregations.
Third, a renewed response to the church’s mission means that Christians at home and abroad must learn more about other world religions before they can adequately speak about their own faith. I have known undergraduates who have renewed their interest in their Christian roots and beliefs because their college roommates were Muslims, Buddhists, or Hindus. As one student told me: “My roommate knew what it meant to be a Muslim. I decided I needed to know, really know, what it means to be a Christian.” The student became more serious about his own Christianity through the impact of his Muslim roommate. Sometimes, the renewal of a missionary commitment begins in the strangest places!
Finally, Baptists are always learning that God is on mission in the world and that Christians must look and listen for those places where God may be at work, inside and outside the church. Jesus continually reminded the faithful of his day that they needed “eyes to see and ears to hear” in order to discern the movement of God in the world. Many Baptists have learned that lesson the hard way. White Baptists in the American South generally were insensitive to God’s activity in the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. So today, at the threshold of a new millennium, Baptists must watch and work for the mission of God breaking forth in the church and in the world. God’s mission must be ours. Let’s get to it!
________
Bill J. Leonard is Dean and Professor of Church History, Wake Forest University Divinity School, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
1. H. Leon McBeth, A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), 211.
2. Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine (March 1813), 300.
3. Helen Emery Falls, “Baptist Women in Missions Support in the Nineteenth Century,” Baptist History and Heritage (January 1977), 26.
4. McBeth, 205.
5. R. Virgil Santee, “Sallie Paine Peck,” American Baptist Quarterly (September 1984), 226.
6. William McLoughlin, Cherokees and Missionaries, 1789-1839 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), 155.
7. McBeth, 205.
  • Reverence

Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Most people interpret this passage as being afraid or scared of God and His punishment.  In actuality the word “fear”, in Proverbs 1:7, comes from the Hebrew word yir’ah which means to reverence or be awestruck or in awe of. Reverence carries with it the idea of worship which relates to our relationship with God and everything associated with Him.
We live in times where God is “respected” but not “revered”, where people say they trust God but fail to reverence Him in obedience and submission. Many follow their own ideology or emotions rather than the God of all creation and often our religious devotion is practiced more like a picnic rather than the knee-knocking, heart-piercing experience before God that it should be. Indications of our lost reverence are all-around us. Many believers proclaim they want to be filled of the Spirit and power of God but it can only come with reverence. God must always be to us a great and Holy God by which we fall before His throne with reverence and submission. It is only when we truly hold God in respect that the Holy Spirit gives genuine Christian joy. True Christian joy must have a foundation of reverence, fear and awe toward the true and living God.
·         Our worship should always contain a holy reverence toward God
·         True Reverence toward God will produce a Godly lifestyle
·         One who reveres God will sacrifice for the good of others and show respect unto all
·         One who reveres God will work diligently to accomplish God’s will in the church
·         One who reveres God will respect His word and study their bible
·         One who reveres God will adorn themselves with modest apparel
·         One who reveres God will have a home that reflects it
The Bible clearly states that we are to show reverence toward God, the things that represent His person and the things that pertain to Him including the church and our brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Heb 12:29  For our God is a consuming fire.
  • Confronting Conflict

Job 14:1  Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. (14:2)  He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.
Job was an example of the inevitable conflict that we must face. If there is one thing in life that is certain, it is the fact that all people will face conflict. Some will experience it to a great degree and some to a lesser, but all will have it. Conflict reflects a struggle from two opposing sides. There are spiritual, moral, mental and even physical conflicts that we must endure. For the Christian, the great test is how we face those conflicts. Will we allow God to guide us through them or will we struggle in our own strength? The bible is plain in that without God or His armor our conflicts will consume us. When great conflict arises in your life or your home you must stand for biblical truth no matter how difficult or complex your situation is. God will stand with the righteous but those in opposition to God cannot stand.
·         Jesus taught the certainty of conflict
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
·         Peter states our conflicts will be fierce
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
·         We must be prepared to face conflict
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
·         Understand God uses conflict in your life to temper you and bring honor to Him
(e.g.  conviction is a spiritual conflict that will lead to repentance…)
Rom 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Rom 5:4  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Rom 5:5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
·         Jesus faced conflict head on
i. Pharisees wanted to kill him
John 10:31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
ii. He stood against sin
Mat 21:12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
iii. Wrongly accused and sentenced to death Jesus still accepted God’s will
Mat 27:13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?  Mat 27:14  And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
·         Jesus promised to aid us in conflict
Mat 28:20 …and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS THAT:
1. YOU FACE THE CONFLICT
2. YOU FACE IT IN A GODLY MANNER
  • Don’t Eat the Dog Food

Philippians 2:15  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
I believe that one reason why the church at this present moment has so little influence over the world, is because the world has so much influence over the church! Nowadays, we hear preachers pleading that they may do this, and do that—that Christians may live like worldlings. My sad answer to them, when they crave this liberty is, “Do it if you dare”. It may not cost you much hurt for now, but your cravings show how rotten your hearts are. If you are hungering after such dogs food—go dogs, and eat the garbage!
Worldly amusements are fit food for pretenders and hypocrites. If you were God’s children, you would loathe the thought of the world’s evil joys. Your question would not be, “How far may we be like the world?” but your cry would be, “How can we get away from the world? How can we come out of it?”
Every worldly Christian hinders the progress of the gospel– Every member of a church who is living in secret sin, who is tolerating in his heart anything that he knows to be wrong, who is not seeking eagerly his own personal sanctification, is to that extent hindering the work of the Spirit of God. 

For to the extent that we maintain known unholiness, we restrain the Spirit. He cannot work by us as long as any conscious sin is tolerated.

It is not over breaking of commandments that I am now speaking of, brethren, but I include ‘worldliness’ also– a care for carnal things, and a carelessness about spiritual things; having enough grace just to make us hope that you are a Christian, but not enough to prove you are;
bearing a shriveled apple here and there on the topmost bough, but not much fruit; this I mean, this ‘partial barrenness’– not complete enough to condemn, yet complete enough to restrain the blessing, this robs the treasure of the church, and hinders her progress.

Phil 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
(Taken from the writings of Charles Spurgeon)

  • Renewed Strength for the Weary

Isa 40:30  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: Isa 40:31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
I. Introduction: Has your excitement about the Lord grown with time? Or has your enthusiasm faded over the years? Do you ever feel like you’re tired or just burnt-out. Maturing in Christ should cause the flame of your faith to grow stronger, not weaker.
II. Lesson:
A. Caution: It’s very easy to become lukewarm with the Lord and it’s very easy to become weary and tired in the lord’s work.
1. Even Timothy became discouraged. When the young pastor faced difficult circumstances, Paul encouraged him to fan the flame of his devotion for God (2 Tim. 1:1-11).
2. Weakening of Faith. A Christian’s faith can be weakened by devastating circumstances, or it can dwindle gradually through a loss of interest in spiritual things.
B. Causes of Spiritual Weariness or Luke-warmness
1. Overwhelming lifestyle
Matt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
2. Difficult Trials
1 Pet 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Pet 4:13  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.
  1. Spiritual Burnout – Over extending can result in weariness
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
  1. Spiritual Tiredness (The more mature we become the greater example we should be, not stepping back for the younger but being an encouragement and example)
Psa 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
C. What is evidence of a Spiritual Weariness?
1. You neglect the Word of God. What wood is to a fire, the Word of God is to your Christian life. As a follower of Christ, you can’t live effectively without it.
2. Your prayer life changes. You begin to feel that God isn’t listening.
3. Your church attendance becomes sporadic. You start making excuses not to go.
4. You become defensive about your lifestyle. You rationalize making compromises.
5. You begin to lose your joy. Serving the Lord becomes a duty instead of a passion. Worry and fear replace your joy.
6. You begin to doubt God. Lack of Faith becomes evident in our lives.
7. You stop paying attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Quench not the spirit.
D. How do you recover your Spiritual Weariness?
1. Recognize your condition. Are you as close to God as you want to be.
2. Recall a season of life when you were passionate about God. What was it like? How did you spend your time?
3. Repent. Losing devotion to Jesus is often a direct result of sin. (Omission or Commission)
4. Refocus your attention on the Lord. Seek God’s will for you present circumstances.
5. Read the Word of God. Start with a short book of the New Testament, and ask the Lord to speak through it as you read.
6. Seek God daily in prayer. Go beyond praying for what you need or want. Seek an intimate relationship with Him.
7. Get involved in someone else’s life. Your problems will consume you if you let them. Take the focus off yourself, and meet another person’s needs.
8. Rely on the Holy Spirit to enable you.
Sometimes our passion weakens because we try to live for Jesus in our own strength. Following Christ is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit; attempting to do so can leave us weary and discouraged.
III. Closing: Has your fire for God dwindled to cold ashes? If it has, begin to stir up the embers of your faith. Allow the Lord to make your life a bright flame for His glory.
  • Crucifixion

Mark 15:25  …and they crucified him.
What is crucifixion? A medical doctor provides a physical description:
The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backwards with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place.
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain–the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.
As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen.
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from his lacerated back as he moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over–the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level–the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues—the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through is tissues… Finally he can allow his body to die.
All this the Bible records with the simple words, “And they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:24).
Behold what manner of love is this?

  • The “Plan” of Salvation

Acts 2:23  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
A good friend recently provoked some thought about this common phrase. Does God really have a “plan” of salvation? Is there really a systematic method  of “getting saved” that is worked out in advance? Does any church or group have control over God? The problem arises when we intellectually try to comprehend God’s methods. God deals with every person on an individual basis and that which is divine and above comprehension cannot be placed in the confounds of human thought or a systematic practice. We have the instruction in God’s word, many examples and personal experience. However, when comes to the matters of the soul only God can reveal God. I firmly believe that. Salvation is a universal offer to mankind and the only saving entity is Christ. God did predetermine a way of escape and a way of salvation and that way is Jesus. He was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”. He was and is the predetermined sacrifice thus Christ alone is our salvation.
1 Pet 1:18  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1 Pet 1:19  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 Pet 1:20  Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
By God’s sovereign decree the way of the Savior was set in motion that Messiah would be the atoning sacrifice for sin. However, there is no systematic method or plan that enables man to obtain salvation. We cannot fathom or reason that which will bring a sinner to Christ. We can instruct sinners to “seek” yet seeking will not save. We can instruct sinners to pray, yet ones own prayer will not save. We can tell people to go to an altar, weep before the Lord yet by our own actions we can never justify ourselves. We can follow steps of obedience in God’s word yet our works of obedience will not save. I heard testimonies of people who were saved while praying, singing, driving and even walking down a road. So when, how and where God acts is of His own choosing as Jonah said, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
We know there are conditions of salvation (i.e. faith and repentance) but ultimately man must be divinely enabled to obtain the mercies of God. Today’s religions refuse to wait on God and allow Him to work in the souls of men. We see many elements which led others to salvation but those cannot be put into logic or reason. What God used to reveal Himself to one may not be what He uses for another. That is why salvation is a spiritual work which must be spiritually discerned. When the act of salvation or “regeneration” occurs it excludes the natural leaving glory only to God. There must be a revelation that occurs in the soul. You must have personal knowledge from God that you have experienced God. If you do not have personal confirmation from God that you have been saved then you may be a victim of the unscriptural, systematic methods which are used to convince people their soul is saved and justified before God!  (i.e. baptism, personal obedience, decision, etc…)
Faith is something that defies all human logic or reasoning. Our natural state, which is self sufficiency, cannot move itself to salvation.  When conviction occurs there is conscience awareness by the human will which is a realization of its own failure. The natural will finds itself inadequate depending solely on God for mercy. The “saved” or regenerate will consists of the conscience awareness that God alone has produced spiritual satisfaction of a salvation experience. IT’S NOT OF MAN BUT ALL OF GOD.
Faith is a divinely enabled action on man’s part which calls all human faculties into play and ends with God’s grace granting salvation. Man possesses no moral or spiritual power apart from God. The enabling gift of God’s grace on the one side and man’s response of faith on the other would thus be the only possible explanation of true salvation.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Saving Faith Involves Three Elements:
1.       First, there is an intellectual element. It is a change of thought. A man’s view of sin and of God and his relations to God undergo a change when he repents. His thought of sin changes from approval to disapproval. His thought focuses on God’s provision for our salvation. We accept thus the historical facts and also the interpretation of their meaning as these are given in the word. But it is clear that this alone is not saving faith. Devils believe in this sense and shudder. (James 2 : 19.)
2.       The second element is assent. The sinner convicted of his sin and need and his dependence recognizes in the provisions of the gospel the divine answer to his needs. This necessarily includes an element of feeling as well as of knowledge. But it is not even yet the faith which is the condition of salvation. Jesus recognized that there were transient or emotional believers. Hence he declared that abiding in his word was the test of true discipleship. (John 8 : 30, 31.) The stony ground hearers belonged to this class of emotional disciples. (Matt. 13 : 20, 21.)
3.       The third element in saving faith is volition. In the last resort faith is an act of will. (It is trust in Christ as Saviour, based on the conviction that he is trustworthy.) He is trustworthy as God’s gracious revelation for man’s salvation. He is trustworthy as atoning Redeemer. He is the sufficient offering for sin. He is trustworthy in his wisdom to guide, in his power to deliver, and in his holiness to sanctify. He is trustworthy as Lord of the life. When we trust him, submit our wills to him, obey him, he grants us the ability to exercise saving faith in him.
We do have the responsibility to condition ourselves before God in humility and surrendering of our will and when God sees His conditions are meet He divinely interacts with the soul. These conditions we speak of occur individually in the hearts of men. The are not systematic, they are not fostered by mere will or intellect but they are God’s alone. That is why every salvation experience is the same yet entirely different. The only common factor is that God alone does the saving.  I heard an true story one time of a very sinful man in a community. He came brokenly into the church and proclaimed “me and the Lord just saved me”. The concerned preacher asked “What do you mean “you” and the Lord?” He replied, “I done the begging and He done the saving!”
To God be the glory in all things! He does not need us to accomplish His will yet He uses us as “instruments of righteousness” or tools to accomplish His purpose. In essence there is not a systematic plan of Salvation only Jesus. Jesus died for every man and the purpose of God in Christ is universal.
John 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
  • Forsaking the Assembly

The church is the greatest institution known to man. To be a member of her means that one occupies a position in the highest and noblest institution upon earth. That is borne out by the testimony of Jesus Himself. “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt 16:18


The church is the only institution which has been dedicated with the blood of Christ. The dedication of the temple by Solomon with the blood of animal sacrifice was a type of the dedication of the church with the blood of Christ. He shed His blood after the church had been established as a means of His own accreditation and the atonement of sin. The institutions of men in the world are at best dedicated by human beings apart from the blood of Christ. Denominations, founded by men, cannot claim that honor. Civil governments, although essential and mighty, are void of it. The claim of popes and vicars to possess power to give rank and dignity to the church is nothing better than “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Eph 5:26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
The church is the only institution which is divinely authorized to carry out the Great Commission. Individuals outside the church membership may testify to the love, mercy, and saving grace of God through Christ by which sinners may be saved, but they fail of the full authority comprehended in the Lord’s commission to His church. Members of the church founded by Christ, therefore, possess authority unknown to all outside of the church.
  • The New Testament Example
The Jerusalem church set an example for churches in all ages.”And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers,” Acts 2:42.
1.       The church was stedfast or firm, in his practices, not being turned aside by the opposition of the critics.
2.       The members enjoyed sweet fellowship with no thought of one rising above the other in authority. The term, “fellowship,” signifies equality of partners, or comrades in a common cause. When applied to the members of a church, it denotes a relation based upon a common status.
3.       Being in fellowship, in doctrine and personal relationship, the members were eligible for the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The Jerusalem church was faithful “in breaking of bread.” No one outside a New Testament church has that right. The Lord’s Supper Is a church ordinance.
4.       There was a prayer life in the church fellowship. The Jerusalem church continued “in prayers.” Prayer is a personal privilege and is granted to the children of God everywhere and under all circumstances; nevertheless, it is an essential part of a church worship service. Three outstanding features of a worship service are prayer, singing praises, and preaching of the word.
5.       The unique fellowship enjoyed only in church relations is conducive to the highest Christian growth in grace. It makes possible a necessary training in all departments of church work. It makes effectual the ministry of the Word of God at home and in foreign lands.
  • Is there a Perfect Church?
Of course the answer is no. As long as it exists on earth and the human factor prevails it will not be so. The Lord’s presence is the only perfect factor. Still, the Lord has commanded and instructed us to be a part of and support this great institution. The reason I am in a Missionary Baptist Church is first, the Holy Spirit confirmed this truth in my soul. Also, the fact that Missionary Baptist hold to a standard that I see no other denominations holding to: “the necessity of a new birth experience”. This fact can be traced back to Christ historically and biblically! Sure, many are saved outside denominational walls and many churches have good programs and works yet I seldom see the freedom of the Holy Spirit that I have often experienced in “the Lord’s” church. God intended for HIS people to worship together and find a way to get along. We are to “love”, “forbear” and “forgive”. While there is a continuing decline in Christian devotion and commitment we are never to “throw in the towel”. The gospel was intended to be preached in places of worship and then every Christian has the responsibility to evangelize. I WONDER IF IN THIS REGARD, HAVE NOT WE ALL FORSAKEN THE ASSEMBLY, EVEN WHILE IN REGULAR ATTENDANCE…
Despite human differences, personality conflicts or even difference in minor doctrinal opinions we are not to forsake assembling together. We need to pray for revival and be willing to submit our lives unto Christ AND ONE ANOTHER in order to obtain it. While one can pray, study, worship, evangelize and teach outside the body we still need each other because that is the way “JESUS” set it up!
I wonder if Jesus often feels about us as He felt in the garden when He was preparing for crucifixion… Mat 26:40  And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
  • Why is Church Membership Important?
1.   Bible instructs us to come together as a church in full cooperation –  not renegades
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
2.   We enter a covenant relationship with Christ and one another (New Testament/covenant–Church)
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
3.   Only institution on earth commissioned directly by Christ with the authority to carry out HIS COMMANDS
Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
It is a joy to be a church member – You can receive something in church that cannot be purchased or substituted.
1.       Spiritual Joy (Where the blessings of God can freely flow!)
2.       Social Joy (Network of  Friends, some of the greatest friends and relationships occur in church)
3.       Divine Joy (Knowing you are in the center of God’s will in something that He created for us should result in peace)
  • Don’t join a church if you’re going to live like the devil. If you do you forsake Him and are not willing to repent you ought to have enough integrity, for what belongs to Jesus, to remove yourself!!!
  • Don’t join a church because your family or friends are there.
  • Don’t join a church for programs, activities or social engagements.
  • The Holy Spirit will reveal God’s truth to you and place you in a body if you are willing to submit to “HIS” authority through the local church… (Don’t have a rebellious spirit)
  • If your desire is to honor Christ to the best of your ability, do it in HIS church!
ULTIMATELY IT IS THE LORD THAT ADDS YOU TO THE CHURCH – But you must choose it.
I am not coerced, nor do I “have to go to church or be a member”, however, God instructs it and we should desire to serve “HIM” in spite of imperfect humans!
  • Cyber Sanctification

Joshua 3:5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.

We live in a wonderful age of technology and I have found it to be a great tool in the ministry. I remember growing up in the early 80’s when our family got our first VCR. My dad had no idea how to hook it up. Having experience with the new technology of car s

tereo’s I found it quite easy to install the latest technology our day. Now, ironically, I find myself asking my teenage sons software questions and allowing them to install or download programs. I entered the ministry in the early 90’s and this was about the time I got my first computer. I was scared to death of the internet because of the access to all the “bad stuff” I had heard of floating around in cyber space. I quickly adapted to my new found technology and found it to be a great tool for information and communication. I remember also a prayer and commitment I made to the Lord that I would only use this technology to “HIS” honor and glory. Recently, I was reminded how easy it is to stumble across some of the dangers of using technology. This past week I was “mortified” when I sent out a misspelled link that directed folks to a crude web site. My face book was hacked a few weeks ago and yesterday my email was hacked. (P.S. If this happens to you quickly change your password and delete all mail…)
The dangers and temptations Christians, and our especially our children, are facing using technology are very real, very addictive and can be spiritually destructive. A commitment to the Lord to “sanctify” (set apart for His use only) our lives and everything we do or use is crucial for a closer walk in an age of technology. In fact, I think it is very important that all Christians make this commitment.
I recently taught a lesson to our youth titled “Clicking for Jesus”. Technology is here to stay and despite the dangers it presents it is a fixture in the lives of future generations and learning to use it properly is something the church must address. God gives us many tools and resources and just like anything else in life it all depends on what is in your heart and how you use it. Remember God looks at our motives.
Don’t let technology replace an “Old Fashioned” relationship with God. You can get instant downloads of what’s right or wrong just by hitting your knees and opening your heart. Whatever age we live in Jesus saved us for the purpose of giving Him honor and glory. Don’t neglect your relationship with HIM.
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 

“A Neurologist’s Report”

Our brains are under the influence of an ever- expanding world of new technology: multichannel television, video games, MP3 players, the internet, wireless networks, smart phones, Bluetooth links – the list goes on and on.
Electronic devices and pharmaceutical drugs all have an impact on the micro- cellular structure and complex biochemistry of our brains. And that, in turn, affects our personality, our behavior and our characteristics. In short, the modern world could well be altering our human identity.

Three hundred years ago, our notions of human identity were vastly simpler: we were defined by the family we were born into and our position within that family. Social advancement was nigh on impossible and the concept of “individuality” took a back seat. But with our brains now under such widespread attack from the modern world, there’s a danger that that cherished sense of self could be diminished or even lost.
“Using Technology to Honor God”
1. Phones – Smart phones are great because you can download Bible apps such as the YouVersion Bible, Fighter Verses (Bible verse memory app), and a prayer request reminder.
2. Facebook – Start a study group, let your “friends” know you are praying for them, or share links with friends that might be uplifting!
3. Blogging post articles, newsletters, weekly devotionals, and series – You can “follow” many different blogs from many different Christian leaders.
4. IPOD or MP3 – You can download Christian music or the Bible. “Theatrical” Versions- actually read the Bible as they act out the scenes.
5. Car Tech – Through blue-tooth, aux, and USB plugins you can actually say to your car “Play Hosea chapter 4? and it will. Bible reading does NOT get any easier.
6. YouTube, Vimeo, and Websites – Video quality online is great. You can watch sermons, lectures, and conferences all on your PC. Plus, if you have a TV with a VGA input or WiFi, you can stream it to your TV.
7. Itunes – Itunes is not just music. Itunes launched (awhile back) “Itunes University” which offers FREE college (AND SEMINARY) classes (some audio, some video).
THE NEXT TIME YOU CLICK, REMEMBER YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE – WHAT WOULD JESUS CLICK IF HE WERE ON-LINE

 

  • A Call for a United Effort

Ecclesiastes 4:12  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
This past Sunday Grace hosted the first 5th Sunday fellowship with Harvest MBC. Both churches have expressed an interest in increasing fellowship between Missionary Baptist Churches and voted to begin some fellowship efforts. We shared a wonderful meal followed by devotional and corporate prayer. Then we spent an afternoon of fellowship and activities for the youth. I was truly blessed watching the kids all play together for an afternoon. There were bonds being formed and in such a day as this we need each other more than ever. Let’s face it many churches are struggling and on the decline or at the very least seldom do we interact with other churches.
I have had the desire to see such an effort develop for some time, however, about a year ago the Lord troubled my heart during a special prayer meeting we held prior to our revival at Grace. God’s spirit came on the scene mightily and I realized that if our generation is to experience true revival then it’s going to take our denomination “truly” coming together, an act which seemed to me near impossible. Fact of the matter is, our churches are very self engrossed, divided and in survival mode and beyond this Christians lives are so ensnared by the world there is little commitment and participation. Our focus must be returned to living for Christ and winning lost souls and we must forsake the traditions which have brought division and seek once again to return to united effort for Christ.
Our forefathers found a way to organize and work together and we “MUST” do the same if we are to impact our generation or at this point “survive”. Historically, Baptist people have worked together for the common good of the cause. Cooperative efforts are what helped revival movements progress in our country. From associations, general assemblies, tract societies, mission societies, periodicals, Sunday school literature and so forth, all have been organized cooperative efforts that have helped to plod our course. I fear that if we do not return to such a day then we have sealed our own fate and as the Lord warned the gentiles not to take for granted being grafted into the olive tree, we too may lose the blessings of God.
Rom 11:21  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Q: How can one afternoon of fellowship make a difference or address all this? Brethren it’s a start…
After some communication and deliberation I believe something good can proceed from this effort, I know other local churches have hosted some cooperative services, but I am praying this effort will grow and spread.
We have the intent and desire to officially organize with these two local churches and begin to invite others, not just for picnics or parties but godly Christian fellowship and cooperative services and hopefully the beginning of at least some small united effort for Christ.
·         Can you imagine if every MB Church in middle TN came together for a united revival and prayer meeting?
·         Can you imagine if we all truly came before the Lord with humble hearts and a desire for souls?
·         Are we too full of pride and self centered as churches to see the real need or the real enemy?
·         What will it take to experience real revival in our generation?
·         Is it possible?
·         What’s the problem?
I BELIEVE GOD ONLY WANT’S ONE THING FROM “ALL” OF US
2 Chronicles 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.
·         DO WE SEE THE REVIVAL OF THE CHURCH AS A SOURCE OF SOUL WINNING?
·         DOES ANYONE ELSE SHARE THIS BURDEN?
FEEL FREE TO RESPOND WITH YOUR THOUGHTS OR OPINIONS
  • “If You Love Me”

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.
In John Chapters 13-17 Jesus and his disciples are in the upper room. The disciples had already eaten the Last Supper. He had already washed the disciple’s feet. Out of all of the nights they had spent together this night would be the most significant. For this night was Christ last night on earth. By tomorrow morning he would be hanging on a cross paying for the sins of the world. The words that Jesus spoke carried a particular meaning for this was Jesus’ farewell speech to his disciples. He promised them the Holy Spirit would come, He also warns them of some things they would face and prays for unity.
The simple statement Jesus makes in John 14:15 carries with the essence of Christian duty “If you love me, keep my commandments”. A surprising fact that came to light as I studied this subject was how very few direct commandments Jesus gave. I believe that following Jesus’ commandments means much more than just obeying certain guidelines or regulations. It means living a surrendered life of obedience to the Lord. If we love him we are to allow our hearts, his word and the Holy Spirit to govern our lives.
To the poor souls in Jerusalem who were struggling to understand and obey the thousands of painfully detailed ordinances which the rabbis of ancient Israel imposed upon God’s people, Jesus’ few and easily understood commandments were a relief almost impossible now to comprehend. In fact, he condemned the religious leaders for their oppressive ways (Lk.11:45-46), and told the people, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest”, but many dared not to venture beyond the fences which Israel’s leaders had constructed around them, to come to the rest which Jesus offered.
THE RELIGION OF CHRIST IS A RELIGION OF THE HEART AND NOT JUST OBEYING ORDIANANCES
CONSIDER SOME OF JESUS’ TEACHING AND HOW WE ARE TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS:
1) SEEK
Seeking God is more than just calling on God, simple prayer or asking God for something. It’s the way we are to live, to seek for salvation, guidance and for every need.
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Luke 11:10  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened
2) LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
3) LIVE AS A WITNESS
JESUS NEVER STOOD STILL!!!
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
4) WORSHIP ONLY THE FATHER
John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
John 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
5) BE AS ONE – UNITED
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
John 17:21  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
John 17:22  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
6) CHARITABLE AND GIVING TOWARD ALL
Mat 5:40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
Mat 5:41  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Mat 5:42  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
7) LIVE AFTER JESUS’ EXAMPLE
Live a life of humility, truth, honesty and integrity after Jesus’ example
Living a life of complete obedience is what it means to keep His commandments
  • “O’ Wretched Man”

Romans 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
(Taken from the writings of Charles Hadden Spurgeon)
The wretchedness of Paul, I think, lay in two things, which are enough to make any man wretched. Paul believed the doctrine of human responsibility, and yet he felt the doctrine of human inability. I have heard people say sometimes—”You tell the sinner that he cannot believe and repent without the help of the Holy Spirit, and yet you tell him that it is his duty to believe and repent. How are these two to be reconciled? We reply that they do not want any reconciliation; they are two truths of Holy Scripture, and we leave them to reconcile themselves, they are friends, and friends do not need any reconciliation. But what seems a difficulty as a matter of doctrine is clear as daylight as a matter of experience. I know it is my duty to be perfect, but I am conscious I cannot be. I know that every time I commit sin I am guilty, and yet I am quite certain that I must sin—that my nature is such that I cannot help it. I feel that I am unable to get rid of this body of sin and death, and yet I know I ought to get rid of it. These two things are enough to make any man miserable—to know that he is responsible for his sinful nature, and yet to know that he cannot get rid of it—to know that he ought to keep it down, and yet to feel he cannot—to know that it is his business to keep God’s law perfectly, and walk in the commandments of the law blameless, and yet to know by sad experience that he is as unable to do so as he is to reverse the motion of the globe, or dash the sun from the center of the spheres. How will not these two things drive any man to desperation? The way in which some men avoid the dilemma, is by a denial of one of these truths. They say, “Well, it is true I am unable to cease from sin;” and then they deny their obligation to do so; they do not cry, “O wretched man that I am;” they live as they like, and say they cannot help it. On the other hand, there are some men who know they are responsible; but then they say, “Ay but I can cast off my sin,” and these are tolerably happy. The Arminian and the hyper-Calvinist both of them get on very comfortably; but the man who believes these two doctrines, as taught in God’s Word, that he is responsible for sin and yet that he is unable to get rid of it, I do not wonder that when he looks into himself he finds enough to make him sigh and cry, ever, to faintness and despair, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death.”
YET THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE A CONQUEROR AT LAST. Do you think that we are for ever to be the drudges and the slaves of sin? Am I for ever to be the galley-slave of my own nature, to tug for freedom and never to escape? Am I always to have this dead man chained to my back, and sniff the pestiferous exhalations of his putrid body? No, no, no, that which is within my heart, is like a caged eagle; and I know that soon the bars which confine me shall be broken; the door of my cage shall be opened, and I shall mount with my eye upon the sun of glory, soaring upward, true to the line, moving neither to the right hand nor to the left, flying till I reach my eyrie in the everlasting rocks of God’s eternal love. No, we that love the Lord are not for ever to dwell in Mesech. The dust may besmear our robes and filth may be upon our brow, and beggared may be our garment, but we shall not be so for ever. The day is coming when we shall rise and shake ourselves from the dust, and put on our beautiful garments. It is true we are now like Israel in Canaan. Canaan is full of enemies; but the Canaanites shall and must be driven out. Amalek shall be slain, Agag shall be hewn in pieces; our enemies shall, every one of them, be dispersed, and the whole land from Dan to Beersheba shall be the Lords. Christians, rejoice! You are soon to be perfect, you are soon to be free from sin, totally free from it, without one wrong inclination, one evil desire. You are soon to be as pure as the angels in light; nay, more, with your Master’s garments on you are to be “holy as the holy one.” Can you think of that? Is not that the very sum of heaven, the rapture of bliss, the sonnet of the hill-tops of glory—that you are to be perfect? No temptation can reach you from eye, or ear, or hand; nor if the temptation could reach you would you be hurt by it; for there will be nothing in you that could in any way foster sin. It would be as when a spark falls upon an ocean, your holiness would quench it in a moment. Yes, washed in the blood of Jesus, afresh baptized with the Holy Spirit, you are soon to walk the golden streets, white-robed and white-hearted too, and perfect as your Maker, you are to stand before his throne, and sing his praises to eternity.
Now, soldiers of Christ, to arms again! Once more rush into the fight, you cannot be defeated; you must overcome. Though you faint a little, yet take courage; you shall conquer through the blood of the Lamb.
  • “Traditions of Men”

Col 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Whether we realize it or not we are all people of tradition and should often remind ourselves how easily we are swayed by our traditions, our culture and what just seems comfortable to us. We generally follow the teaching and influence of the generation before us. Godly traditions are worth following and provide a connection to the past. Some traditions are good and worthy of being preserved. Unfortunately it’s not the good traditions we have a problem with, it’s the traditions of men.
Webster’s 1828 dictionary states that a tradition is  the delivery of opinions, doctrines, practices, rites and customs from father to son, or from ancestors to descendants. For the most part, traditions are derived from man’s philosophy or his own method of thinking which is often in opposition to God’s will. Traditions or practices based on the word of God alone are good ones yet a good tradition can easily be perverted with just a little human influence.
Without even realizing the danger our church services can be hindered by traditions. We can come to church and do the same old thing without truly engaging our hearts with God and be just as guilty of ritualistic worship as the Pharisee’s were. We should, as our forefathers did, step back and take a look at our doctrines and practices and assure that they are biblical. If we have practices based on tradition that no longer serve us WE SHOULD CHANGE THEM!
Baptist people have always been able to issue doctrinal statements through the centuries, of which were influenced by conditions of their present day circumstances. Often we avoid change for fear of what others will think. If we are completely honest we would have to admit that we have some practices that are based on the traditions of men. Perhaps some of these traditions were relevant in past years but have seemed to cause confusion and division in our day. If that be the case we should take a long hard look at the practice and try it by the word of God.
I fear the real problem lies in the fact that the lack of unity, organization and jealousy which we have experienced in the past few decades has only served to isolate our churches. Brother can’t you see where Satan has taken us. He has worked to remove our focus from the great commission, steal our children and pull lost souls into hell. Teasing us with our own traditions and keeping us from working to make the gospel relevant in our age is a cunning tactic. Beware of his devices for they are exceedingly deceitful.
We tend to latch on to outdated patterns from 100 to 150 years ago and claim to be old timey but often in reality many use it as an excuse to sit back and do nothing for the Lord. That’s a tradition that needs to be broken. All practices need to be tried by the word of God alone. We must learn to effectively minister in our generation without compromising God’s truth.
Paul warned the Colossians not to be spoiled by men’s traditions but to follow after Christ. His pattern was left as an example for us. Our forefathers have left us some good traditions and patterns to follow. Living a life of devotion and discipline before Christ, being faithful in our responsibilities to Him and the church, giving ourselves for the good of others and His cause, being effective in our methods of sharing the gospel. Those are some traditions worth following.
  • “The Compassion of Christ”

Matthew 14:14  And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
The word compassion, as it is used in the Bible means, “To be moved inwardly; to yearn with tender mercy, affection, pity and empathy.” It refers to the deepest possible feelings. The phrase, “moved with compassion” means to be moved in the “inner man”. It has the same idea as our modern expression, from the bottom of my heart.” When we read the Gospels, they tell us of Jesus and His great compassion for mankind. We see that our Savior was moved deeply in His inner being by the needs of those around Him.
Compassion is something most folks relate to as sympathy or kindness but God’s compassion far exceeds this concept and is actually a spiritual trait. A lot of folks don’t realize what it means to have compassion on a spiritual level. Men especially are guilty of having a lack of compassion. Some even view it as something “weak, soft people do” but in reality, expressing compassion towards others reveals strength of character that few people possess! Some are naturally more nurturing and compassionate than others. A mothers heart is full of compassion toward her children because God made her that way, but on a spiritual level compassion stems from the love of God that He placed in our heart and we should strive to have the same compassion that Christ had toward all men.
There are many acts of compassion that have been committed toward me that I have never forgotten. A wife that held my hand and never left my side in a difficult hospital stay, a preacher that came to see me as a sick little boy and left a quarter, a lady who had little to give but gave anyway. People who unselfishly give toward others can have more of an impact than they ever realize and many of God’s people have blessed me just because of their kindness.
We live in a compassion-less world. Most people place themselves and their own above any other consideration in the world. The sad reality is that most people simply do not care what happens to others! They do not possess compassion. If it doesn’t affect them of their families then often little concern is yielded.
If we have the precious truth of the gospel yet fail to share it with the world we have failed to show compassion. Jesus went to the poor, the halt, the lame and the blind. He withheld His gift of eternal life from no one who was willing to receive Him. His gospel is a “whosoever” will and that is the “good news”. He will not withhold compassion from anyone that will come to Him by faith. He knows our needs and feels our infirmities. There is not a struggle that you have in which He will not walk with you if you trust and obey Him.
Psa 86:15  But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
·         God demonstrated compassion by giving His son
·         Jesus demonstrated compassion by giving His life
·         God’s people are to give themselves first to Christ and then to each other
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Rom 12:16  Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
THE GREATEST ACT OF COMPASSION THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOW IS SUMMED UP IN ONE STATEMENT
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…
  • “Faith, a Condition of Salvation”

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Faith occupies a central place in the religion of the Bible. It is central in the Old Testament as well as the New. It is so rich in its contents, and so comprehensive, so inclusive of the relationships of man that it is easier to describe than it is to define it. (All brief definitions of faith come short of the complete reality.) Yet the meaning is simple and easy to grasp, in its essential contents. We give first a brief definition and follow this with a more extended description of faith.
Saving faith, according to the New Testament, we may analyze into at least three elements. But it is difficult to separate one of these from the other two.
First, faith contains an intellectual element. We believe the truth of the gospel. We recognize in Christ and his work God’s may be an awaking from sleep. (Eph. 5: 14.) But the word which contains all these ideas, and that which especially defines the renunciation of sin at the beginning of the Christian life, is repentance.
(I) First, there is an intellectual element. It is a change of thought. A man’s view of sin and of God and his relations to God undergo a change when he repents. His thought of sin changes from approval to disapproval. His thought about God provision for our salvation. We accept thus the historical facts and also the interpretation of their meaning as these are given in the records. But it is clear that this alone is not saving faith. Devils believe in this sense and shudder. (James 2 : i9.)
(2) The second element is assent. The sinner convicted of his sin and need and his dependence recognizes in the provisions of the gospel the divine answer to his needs. This necessarily includes an element of feeling as well as of knowledge. But it is not even yet the faith which is the condition of salvation. Jesus recognized that there were transient or emotional believers. Hence he declared that abiding in his word was the test of true discipleship. (John 8:30, 31.) The stony ground hearers belonged to this class of emotional disciples. (Matt. 13 : 20, 21.)
(3) The third element in saving faith is volition. In the last resort faith is an act of will. (it is trust in Christ as Saviour, based on the conviction that he is trustworthy.) He is trustworthy as God’s gracious revelation for man’s salvation. He is trustworthy as atoning Redeemer. He is the sufficient offering for sin. He is trustworthy in his wisdom to guide, in his power to deliver, and in his holiness to sanctify. He is trustworthy as Lord of the life. When we trust him, submit our wills to him, obey him, we exercise saving faith in him.
The second of the above elements is almost necessarily a part of the first and third. Assent in some measure goes with intellectual belief. It is necessarily present in the act of trust. Hence it is not incorrect to say that saving faith is made up of belief and trust. But assent may be conceived of as a distinct element in which we recognize in the gospel the provision for our need prior to the act of the will. It thus brings into clearness the fact that our whole spiritual nature is called into exercise in saving faith, intellect, emotion, will.
We may now enlarge upon the foregoing definition of faith by pointing out certain relations it sustains in the Christian life. The following statements will make these clear.
(1) The first is that faith unites us to God. Faith in the saving sense of the New Testament is never mere belief of a proposition or acceptance of a creed. “The will to believe” is a modern phrase which expresses a man’s right to hold a proposition as true and the right to act upon the proposition. But such will to believe is not the saving faith of the New Testament until it unites the soul vitally with God.
(2) Again, saving faith unites us with God as he is revealed to us in Christ. For the Christian Christ is the revealer of God. The God we worship is the God we see revealed in Christ. He is made unto us the wisdom, the righteousness, the sanctification, and the redemption of God. (1Cor. 1:30.) As wisdom, Christ is the truth about God. As righteousness, he embodies the moral qualities in God. As sanctification, he gradually produces in us the moral traits of God. As redemption, he is the power of God for us and in us, breaking the power of sin and death and removing guilt. Thus Christ ministers the divine life to us in all necessary ways.
(3) Again, saving faith manifests itself by its works. We are not saved by works, but by grace through faith as the condition. Faith, then, according to the New Testament, is never regarded as a meritorious work which secures redemption for us. And yet, genuine faith is never thought of by the New Testament writers as having no relation to works. True faith is a working faith. Paul makes this clear, although he constantly opposed the Jewish idea of salvation by works. ” Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,” he says, ” but faith working through love” (Gal. 5 : 6). It is important to keep this truth in mind, Otherwise there is danger of making formal faith or mere intellectual belief the condition of salvation. Works do not save, but saving faith may be recognized by the fact that it is a working faith. (James 2 : 17, 18.) It follows that obedience to the commands of Christ is a necessary expression of genuine faith. Faith is indeed the great fundamental act of obedience which includes potentially all other acts. We may briefly sum up the meaning of faith by saying it is willingness to act. Trust in Christ implies willingness to conform to the will of Christ. This is one of the best of all tests of the genuineness of faith.
It is often asserted that men were saved by works in the Old, but by grace through faith in the New Testament. But this is an error. Salvation has always been by grace through faith. In Galatians 3 : 15-22 Paul sets forth the meaning of the law in relation to the gospel. It was never intended that men should be saved by the works of the law. If men had possessed moral power for a perfect obedience, it would have been due to living union with God by faith. Through such union God’s gracious working in the soul imparts the power of obedience. Hence, for Paul, the idea of an obedience which could earn or merit salvation was inconceivable. Man possesses no moral or spiritual power apart from God. Repentance, as previously discussed, is man’s response to the gospel call. The enabling gift of God’s grace on the one side and man’s repentant response by faith on the other would thus be the only possible explanation of the salvation experience.
The conclusion of Paul is that the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after the call of Abraham and his justification by faith, did not destroy the faith principle in salvation. The law had another purpose. It could not make alive, but it could train the people of Israel into a sense of need for a Redeemer. It could bring them a sense of their own weakness. Thus it could prepare them for Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to all who seek him by faith.
E.Y. Mullins (The Christian Religion in its Doctrinal Expression, Sept 1917)
  • “Have YOU Been Born From Above?”

Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
It is truly a horrific thought that many go through life thinking they have a relationship with God but have never truly experienced the new birth. Jesus said the new birth is an absolute requirement to go to Heaven. Many deceivers and false professors have entered the world and Satan loves nothing more than confusing the truth.
Are you born again? This is one of life’s most important questions. Jesus Christ said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
It is not enough to reply, “I belong to the church; I suppose I’m a Christian, I accepted Christ.” Thousands of nominal Christians show none of the signs of being born again which the Scriptures have given us. Thousands cannot tell of the moment when Christ regenerated their soul and the reason is many are still lost!
To my readers, I implore each and everyone to assure your own heart before God.  This is not a “Missionary Baptist” doctrine but it is a God given requirement. Religion is all but vanity without a personal attachment to Christ and without Jesus and many will experience another certain reality, Hell! Most denominations have drifted from practicing a salvation experience that depends solely on God and the assurance which comes from Him through the Holy Spirit. Instructing sinners to seek God until they receive a Holy confirmation is not only the historical practice but also biblical. “ALL” other practices involve the works of men, (ie; decision, baptism, ect…). If you did not experience Holy Spirit conviction or a separation from God which lead you to broken hearted repentance whereby turning to God in a spiritual manner He saved your soul, then you do not have the new birth experience the Jesus said you MUST have to go to Heaven.
John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 1:13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
“Spiritual regeneration is a subject which lies at the heart of salvation, and we should be diligent to ensure that we really are “born again,” because there are many who presume they are, who actually are not. Be assured that taking on the title of “Christian” is not sufficient. Being born in a “Christian land,” and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is too of no significance whatsoever, unless there is also something much deeper going on. Namely, being born again.
Being born again is an event so mysterious that human words cannot describe it. Jesus said “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt. It is known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself. A new principle is infused which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive. Man can do the former, but only God alone can do the latter.
C.H. Spurgeon
·         Dynamics of a spiritual Conversion
Old fashioned bible repentance + Genuine saving faith = Born again experience with God
1.    Drawing of God – Conviction, God lets you know you are lost
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will
raise him up at the last day.
2. Surrender of self – Repentance and Faith (Inseparable Graces & Sacred Duties)
a.   REPENTANCE –1RST COMMAND OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD
REPENTANCE BROUGHT ABOUT BY HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTION IS THE MISSING ELEMENT IN MODERN CHRISTIANITY WHICH IS LEAVING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN ETERNALLY LOST IN THEIR SIN
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
b.    FAITH THAT DOES NOT BRING A BORN AGAIN SPIRITUAL CHANGE IN THE HEART IS NOT SAVING FAITH
BLIND PRESUMPTION (ACTING ON FALSE ASSUMPTION) IS NOT FAITH BUT A MANIPULATION OF GOD’S WORD
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
3. Acceptance by God – Peace that comes from above
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!!

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

  • “LOOK UNTO ME” (The Reality of a Christian Conversion Experience)

Isa 45:22  Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Church. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved….
The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was—”LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” (Isa. 45:22)
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.
The preacher began thus: “This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It aint liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.
“But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” he said in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ “
Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!”
When he had . . . . managed to spin out about ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.
Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!”
I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought . . . . I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.
THERE AND THEN THE CLOUD WAS GONE, THE DARKNESS HAD ROLLED AWAY, AND THAT MOMENT I SAW THE SUN; AND I COULD HAVE RISEN IN THAT INSTANT, AND SUNG WITH THE MOST ENTHUSIASTIC OF THEM of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say—
“E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die. . .”
That happy day when I found the Saviour, and learned to cling to His dear feet, was a day never to be forgotten by me… I listened to the Word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. Many days of Christian experience have passed since then, but there has never been one which has had the full exhilaration, the sparkling delight which that first day had.
I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat, and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren . . . “I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of Grace! A sinner saved by blood!”
My spirit saw its chains broken to pieces, I felt that I was an emancipated soul, an heir of heaven, a forgiven one, accepted in Jesus Christ, plucked out of the miry clay and out of the horrible pit, with my feet set upon a rock and my goings established . . . .
Between half-past ten o’clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o’clock, when I was back again at home, what a change had taken place in me! Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me, “Something wonderful has happened to you,” and I was eager to tell them all about it. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found the Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven.
Testimony of Charles Spurgeon (Taken from Iain Murray, ed., The Early Years (London: Banner of Truth, 1962), p. 87-90).