Filed under: Articles | Tags: Baptist, Bible, Blessing, blessings, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, Deliverance, faith, God, Grace, help, hope, Jesus, life, prayer, spirituality, theology
Chances are good that, if you turn on the television and tune into a religious channel, you will hear a lot about God’s blessings. You will hear that God wants to bless you beyond your wildest imagination. You will hear that God’s main concern is that you be happy, fulfilled, wealthy and blessed. Actually, they are right! But, many times, they are just as wrong. Allow me to explain.
First, we need to understand what blessing means from God’s perspective. The word for blessing in the Old Testament actually comes from a root word that means to prepare. It is a word that, properly translated, means much more than just stuff. So many times we think blessing means that we get a new car, new home, lots of money, etc. Sometimes this is the case because God gives us those things in preparation for what He wants us to do and do with them. This is not always the case. God equally blesses the person that has nothing as He works in his or her life to prepare them for the ministry He has ahead of them. Sometimes God even uses difficulty to prepare us to be useful for His Kingdom!
Consider the story of the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Her husband has died, the food is gone, and the creditors are going to take her two sons away as payment for her husband’s debts. She is at the absolute end of her rope. She has nowhere to turn; however, she does have one last desperate choice. She goes to Elisha, the prophet, and asks for his help. With the desperation that we can only see in a mother that trying to keep her family together and her home intact, she cries out to God through His prophet. Much to her chagrin, the prophet asks what she wants him to do? She has no answer. He asks what she has left in her house. She replies that she only has a little bit of oil and that is it.
This is the chance where she has a choice to make. She has presented her request to God and He has responded by asking her to give up the little she has. That would probably not make for a successful television ministry, but it was what God wanted. Faced with this call to action, the widow had a chance to obey or not obey. By not obeying, she could protect the little she had and continue to find a way out that was more appealing or popular. If she obeyed, she would have to trust that God knew what He was doing and would take care of her. She chose to obey even though it made no sense from a human standpoint. What did she receive? God’s blessing. In this case it was stuff, but it was not the stuff that mattered. It was her obedience that taught her to trust God and provided her example for us that mattered and still does. Her difficult circumstance was the blessing!
What are you facing right now that is tempting you to question the goodness of God? What are you going through right now that is not what you wish it would be? What difficulty is threatening to crush you? Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be God blessing you, not with stuff, but with the opportunity to obey and learn about Him, grow closer to Him and be used more by and for Him. Maybe instead of searching the television channels for a person to make you feel guilty and inferior because of what you are going through, you should spend that time talking to the One in charge of your circumstances and ask for Him to guide you through it.
Filed under: Articles, Uncategorized | Tags: 2015, Baptist, Bible, Bright, Christ, Christian, Evangelism, God, hope, Jesus, pray, prayer, Thank God, Thanksgiving, work, World
Many people in our church are praying for the world through a resource, Pray for the World: A New Prayer Resource from Operation World. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of our world or a different country and give information on how to pray for the spread of the gospel in that country. As I was reading the introductory information on the world in the first few days’ entries, I noticed a number of things for which we can thank God as we start a new year.
- There is an amazing harvest of new believers throughout the Majority World. If you are not familiar with this term, it is a term that means the parts of the world where most of the population lives. There is a mighty movement of God throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are now very few countries that don’t have at least some Christians.
- Evangelical Christianity has grown faster in the last 60 years than any other world religion. It is up from 2.9% of the world’s population to 7.9%.
- We are down to only about 200 million people (out of 6.9 billion) who do not have at least some scripture in their heart language. Bible translation work is ongoing and this number should be drastically reduced even by the end of 2016.
- Social media, the internet, and mobile technologies have enabled a growing network of prayer support and connectedness around the world like never before.
- The Great Commission has become globalized. There are actually more missionaries being sent around the world from the Majority World countries than the Western World. This is great because it means that churches throughout the world are enabling gospel witness instead of waiting for it to be done for them.
- Areas that have been in the news for war, catastrophes, etc., have actually become places of great gospel witness as the desperation of the governments and the people have opened the doors to disaster relief from various evangelical denominations. The groups have come with material support, but more importantly have come sharing the gospel.
Consider this quote from the book:
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24), we need Jesus to open our eyes to the hidden truth. God is answering prayers, and doing wonderful things in the world! This has been a remarkable generation in church history. Who among us, 30 years ago, could have imagined more than 300 (my correction) million Chinese Christians, or massive people movements to Christ in Iran and Algeria, or breakthrough in Cambodia and Nepal? Only God! So we begin with answers to prayer, with all gratitude and praise to our Lord. And we persist in prayer for the things that to our eyes seem impossible, because nothing is impossible with God.
Would you join me this year in praying that the Great Commission will be fulfilled in our lifetime? In this year? Will you join me in praying for the believers scattered around the world? Will you give to missions, go on missions, and ask God to make missions successful like no other time in your life?
Let’s believe, pray, stand, go, give, weep, laugh, and celebrate what God is doing…TOGETHER! And let us start by thanking God for all He has done as we look forward to what He is going to do.
Filed under: Articles, Uncategorized | Tags: Baptist, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Christmas, church, cold, God, Jesus, music, Season, shopping, Snow, winter
For as long as I can remember, I have heard a song at Christmas, “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas Everywhere You Go.” I confess that I do not know the rest of the song, but since it is 70 degrees this week, and sunny, I got to thinking…what makes it look like Christmas?
Now, of course, we could say snow and cold and chimneys streaming smoke above the skyline of homes in neighborhoods throughout the city and beyond. We could talk about Hot Chocolate, Cider, Cookies, Fruit Cake, and much more, but is that what really makes it look like Christmas?
We could talk about the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season. It seems that every day since November 30th, I have had a meeting, party, event, concert, ceremony, or some other engagement on my calendar. I have been to see men and women honored on the Men and Women of Distinction Calendar, have attended a board retreat for the Chamber of Commerce, have attended County Commission, City Commission, and School Board meetings, have played Santa at a community gathering, and much more. Is that what makes it look more like Christmas?
We could also talk about the Christmas music. KJIL and KHYM are playing it. Satellite radio has a channel dedicated to it. Directv has a channel playing it night and day. Schools are singing it. Our church had a night of music where our Senior Adult Ministry (SAM), our Prayz Force (Children’s Choir), our youth choir, and our main sanctuary choir all sang it. Our children are preparing a musical dinner theater to sing it some more. We sing it at church, nursing home services, and even listen to it while in the elevator and while on hold. It that what makes it look a lot like Christmas?
We could talk about the Christmas lights on houses as it seems that people have tastes ranging from simple to choreographed when it comes to lighting up their houses. We could talk about the many Christmas trees that are visible out of the front windows of people’s houses. We could talk about the decorations that show up in offices, cubicles, and even on vehicles. We could talk about the brightly colored packages strewn about Christmas trees at doctors’ offices, the hospital, and even hotel lobbies. Is that what makes it look a lot like Christmas?
We could also talk about the increased traffic on Kansas and Pancake. We could talk about the number of carts not in the corral, the number of long lines at Walmart and Dillon’s. We could talk about the beep, beep, beep of the scanners, guns, and wands as people spend money like it might not be there tomorrow. Is that what makes it look a lot like Christmas?
What if it was more than those things? What if it took something else? What makes it look a lot like Christmas to me is that I see and hear the name of Christ mentioned. I hear people wishing each other well because of Christ’s birth. I see families take time out of their busy schedules to call, write, or visit loved ones because Christ was born to become one of us. I hear songs that talk about Christ, hear conversations about keeping Christ in Christmas. These are the things that make it look a lot like Christmas.
I see people caring for one another. I hear stories of taking care of elderly people, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, and the homeless. I watch as families read the Christmas story together. I watch as parents encourage their children to share what they have with those who do not. I see more hugs, smiles, and reluctance to part of strained terms. I listen to stories of travel, meals, gifts, and inside jokes because we actually stop and share ourselves with each other. That is what makes it seem more like Christmas.
How are you helping to make it look a lot like Christmas in your corner of the world? Remember, Christmas without Christ leaves people wanting mas. (Spanish for more.)
As we have worked our way through this incredible book by the Apostle John, we have been surprised by some of the things he lists that keeps us from having a full and abundant joy. One of these surprising issues is that of loving others and being connected to them. If you have ever loved someone, you know that the relationship required sacrifice and work, but did you also know that it provided you with joy? In this message, we will focus on John’s command (echoing Jesus) when he tells us to love one another.
If you are like me, you need some help focusing on the real Reason for this crazy season we celebrate each year. This is a series of messages designed to strip away the myths and mania of the Christmas season to get back to a true celebration of God become man.
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As Christmas rolls around each year, it is easy to forget the true meaning of the season. In this series, we take a fresh look at some of the most wellknown parts of the Bible. The first installment of this series involves considering Mary. Eliminating the myths, and allowing Scripture to speak for itself, we look that character of this young girl and how she can set the example for us in how to follow Jesus.
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