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Pastor's Notes Archive


Pastor Hartline's notes and devotionals from previous "Pastor's Pages" can be found here.

 


GOD’S BOOKS – Part 1

Devotional for May 6, 2017

Job 31:35 KJV – “Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.”

Job felt that God was against him, and he wished God had written a book. The Bible teaches us that God does have books that are being written.  Moses referred to one of God’s books that is filled with names. “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” (Exodus 32:32)

David was aware of God’s books.  In Psalm 56:8 he said there is a book where God records details about our lives, our actions, and our feelings: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” And in Psalm 139:16 he wrote about a book in which God records even the details of how He made us. “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

Yes, God has several books. These books are being written for a specific purpose and will one day be read with much interest to everyone.  A serious study of God’s books reveals God’s interest in the details of our lives.  A serious study of God’s books reveals the importance of how we live each day.

Job wished God had written a book about him, and He has.  But Job is not the only one in the book. You are there, too. In the next few days I plan to bring out the fact that there are three books God is writing that will be opened and read one day.  I hope it will challenge each of us to be ready for the reading by being more faithful in our life for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have a God-Blessed Day,

Pastor Richard Hartline


GOD’S BOOKS – Part 2 – THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE

Devotional for May 7, 2017

Malachi 3:16 KJV – “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it , and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord , and that thought upon his name.”

Yesterday we learned that God is writing several books about our lives on earth.  You may be forgotten here in the next 200 years, but be assured, God will have a record of your life ready to read.

Malachi 3:16 talks about the fact that God is writing “a book of remembrance.”  This book contains the names of those who fear the Lord.  Fearing God involves much more than being afraid of what God can do.  It is recognizing Who God is, what He is like, what He likes, and what He dislikes; and then adjusting our lives accordingly.  It goes far beyond a verbal statement of belief in God. It causes us to have a great desire to add those qualities to our lives which please Him and remove those which displease Him.

The book of remembrance also contains the names of those who encourage one another to remember the Lord.  Everyone goes through hard times, and sometimes we need encouragement from a person who desires God best for us.  God writes in that book of remembrance the names of those dear people who extend themselves to help others remember the Lord and be encouraged.

The book of remembrance also contains the names of those who think upon His name.  When reacting to the circumstances of life or when making decisions regarding life, God wants us to consider Him and His will more than any other factor.  And when we do that, God writes it down.

This book will be opened at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  There, we will receive or lose rewards according to the things done in our body. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.“ (2 Corinthians 5:10)

It is a good thing for God to write about you in this book because it will one day tranlate into rewards at the Judgment Seat.  What is God writing about you and me in that book of remembrance?  May we live each day in the fear of God, encouraging others to remember the Lord, and thinking on His name throughout every day.

Have a God-Blessed Day,

Pastor Richard Hartline


GOD’S BOOKS – Part 3 – THE BOOKS OF JUDGMENT

Devotional for May 8, 2017

Daniel 7:9-10 KJV – “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. [10] A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”

Yesterday we learned that God is writing “a book of remembrance.”  Every child of God should desire for his or her name to be in this book because it contains the names of those who fear God and think about Him.

Today we look in the book of Daniel at the first mention of books of judgment.  There are multiple volumes in this set of books because they contain every detail of every person and their daily works. There are entries being added to this book every day that you live. In Revelation 20:12-13 people who die without Christ as their Saviour are judged by the things written in these books.

Not only names, but the works associated with the names of people in the books are recorded.  This book will contain things written about us that we wanted no one to know. Jesus said, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. [3] Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3)  Sins are recorded here.  Secrets are recorded here.

Lost opportunities for being saved will be included in this book. Every time a person was invited to church, handed a Gospel tract, was convicted by the Holy Spirit about their sin, or rejected a testimony given by someone who knows Jesus is recorded in these books. 

The books of judgment will be opened at the Great White Throne judgment described in Revelation 20.  This will be directly after time is over and eternity is about to begin. This is the judgment of the lost.  Only the unsaved will have their life reviewed in detail from these books.  The saved have their name in another book.  We’ll talk about that book tomorrow.

Have a God-Blessed Day,

Pastor Richard Hartline


GOD’S BOOKS – Part 4 – THE BOOK OF LIFE

Devotional for May 9, 2017 

Luke 10:20 KJV – “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

The final book we will look at in the Scriptures is the Book of Life.  What a wonderful thing it is to know that your name is written in this book!  Jesus said it is better than having demons be subject to your commands!  Everyone ought to have their name written in this book!

This book contains the names of every person who has trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  Having your name in this book is the only thing that can save you from being cast alive into the lake of fire at the Great White Throne Judgment. At that judgment the books of judgment are opened, and all the works of those who died without Jesus are read. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12)

But then the book of life is opened and checked for each person’s name. Tragically, the name will not be there, and the person will be cast into the lake of fire (vv. 14-15). Every person at that judgment will be condemned, not because they were not good enough, but because they never got their name written in the book of life.

How do you get your name in the book of life?  By confessing to God that you are a sinner and repenting of your sin.  Then you believe that Jesus died for your sin in your place and that He rose from the dead to be able to save you.  Finally, it is as easy as asking. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Is your name in the book of life?  It should be.  It can be!  It must be, if you want to go the Heaven instead of spending eternity in that lake of fire.

If I can be of any assistance to you in making sure your name is in the book of life, please let me know, or come to see us at Godfrey Avenue Baptist Church, and get this most important matter settled today.

Have a God-Blessed Day,

Pastor Richard Hartline


UNBORN LIVES MATTER

Jeremiah 1:5 KJV – “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

For the past year the news has been saturated with stories about protests by groups called “Black Lives Matter.“ Following that we’ve seen “Blue Lives Matter“ and “All Lives Matter.” Truly, all lives, no matter what the color, matter greatly to God and should matter to us. 

But, sadly, there is one group of people who have been officially declared by our nation as not being important – the unborn babies. In 1972 the United States Supreme Court declared in Roe vs. Wade that unborn lives don’t matter.

If anyone is killed because of the color of their skin, we should be outraged. If anyone is killed because they work as a police officer, we should be outraged. And when defenseless babies are killed just because they are inside their mother’s womb, and a woman feels they will bring unwanted change into her life, it is the greatest tragedy, and we should be outraged.

God told Jeremiah that He knew exactly what Jeremiah was going to be like and what he was going to accomplish in life, before he was ever born. Every baby that is conceived is the handiwork of God and already has a wonderful purpose for our world.

Among the millions of murdered babies since 1972, it is very likely that one of them may have been killed before being able to fulfill it’s purpose of finding the cure for cancer or aids. We will never know what legalizing the killing of the unborn has cost the world.

But even more serious is the fact that God has tried to give us such gifts as these children, but they didn’t matter. Americans who are so wrapped up in themselves, in their rights, in their political parties, should hang their heads in shame and cry out to God for forgiveness.

Every baby is “fearfully and wonderfully made..” (Psalm 139:14) Let us pray and lend our voice to their cause that “Unborn Lives Matter.”

Have a God-Blessed Day,

Pastor Richard Hartline


GREAT PEACE

Psalm 119:165 KJV – “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

With political turmoil in Washington and moral turmoil in society, any instructions in the Bible regarding our having peace are worth our attention. In Psalm 119:165 God promises, not just peace, but “Great peace. “ Great peace involves feelings of safety, emotional health, and wholeness – exactly what people are looking for.

The way to this peace is to “love thy law.“ You can’t love God without loving His Word, and you can’t experience all the blessings He wants to give without knowing His instructions found in the Bible. Approach the Word of God like a treasure chest of riches to be uncovered, not like a textbook to be learned. Through finding, learning, and practicing the principles of the Bible we can take firm hold on God’s will and trust in His promises. Spend time daily in the Bible.

And additional benefit besides the “great peace“ is “nothing shall offend them.” This speaks of more than just hurt feelings. It speaks of a collapse of living for the Lord Jesus Christ. We could say “Nothing will sidetrack them in their Christian life.” Loving God’s Word keeps us focused on the future He has for us, the present need we have for Him, and the past blessings we have received from His hand.

The church is here today because of men and women who, in the midst of deep troubles and fierce storms, never despaired because of the great peace God used to prevent them from stumbling. You and I need to follow God’s plan, experience His promise, and never stumble.


Three Kinds of People

By Pastor Richard Hartline

July 28, 2015

1Co 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

1Co 3:1  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Everyone classifies things.  We classify foods as meat, fruit, or vegetable.  We classify workers as blue collar of white collar.  We even classify generations as baby-boomers, generation X, or “the great generation.”  A couple of years ago I asked a cashier in a store if she was a Christian.  Her response was, “I don’t want to classify myself to any one type of belief system.” 

We may not wish to classify ourselves or others, but be assured that God does classify everyone in many ways.  He labels people as either saved or lost, believers or unbelievers, and condemned or not condemned.  In our text today God classifies everyone as either natural, carnal, or spiritual.  Let us examine these three kinds of people and determine which way God classifies us.

The Natural Man. (I Cor. 2:14)  The natural man can be defined as “man living according to the natural drives of the flesh.”  The Greek word translated “natural” refers to the sensuous nature with its subjection to appetite and passion.  There are two faults that the natural man lives with every moment. 

The natural man is spiritually blind.  Second Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  The natural man is led like a blind man through life by a deceitful guide – Satan.  Even when a Christian pleads with him to receive Christ as Saviour he often offers as the excuse for his unbelief, “I can’t see it.”  People in darkness need light, and Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12)  He also will be the trustworthy guide to the blind.  He said, “I am the way …” (John 14:6a)

He is spiritually dead.  Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  Like a physically dead man, the natural man can do nothing to help himself.  His excuse for not being saved is, “I can’t do it,” (and he can’t).  Dead men don’t need a plan for living or improving.  They need life, and Jesus said, “I am the truth and the life.” (John 14:6b)

Until you are born again by receiving Christ as your Saviour, God classifies you as a natural man.

The Carnal Man. (I Cor. 3:1-4)  The carnal man is a man who trusted Jesus Christ to be saved but then limits his life with self-imposed limitations.  He is like a baby who suffers from arrested development.  He doesn’t want to grow spiritually.  Verse 3 of our text says he “walks as men,” meaning that he lives like an unsaved man, according to what his flesh dictates.  People can’t tell a carnal man from a natural man.  God knows you are saved, but He classifies you as carnal.

The Spiritual Man. (I Cor. 2:15 - 3:1)  The spiritual is marked by several differences from the natural and the carnal man.  Some people think a person is spiritual because they shout in church, teach a class, or attend church every Sunday.

First, he evaluates life from God’s viewpoint.  His desire to be holy overrules his desire to be happy. 

Second, he desires to be a disciple and is willing to carry his cross. (“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:27)  By the way, your cross is not a trial like disease, bankruptcy, or a soured marriage.  It is a willingness to experience a burden as a result of obedience to Christ. Cross-bearing is a deliberate choice for believers. 

Third, the spiritual man would rather die right than live wrong.  This attitude wins over the temptation to compromise Biblical convictions in order to experience present comfort.

Lastly, the spiritual man has the ability to see and accept his place in God’s program.  Sometimes a church member may prove their lack of spirituality by rebelling against the leadership of the pastor.

So, what kind of man or woman are you?  If you are natural, listen to Jesus’ call to come to Him and be saved.  If you are carnal, realize that Jesus has a better life for you than you have chosen for yourself.  Be a spiritual man or woman.  Choose to embrace and obey God’s plan for living as given in the Bible.


A Great Illustration of the Gospel of the Grace of God

by Pastor Richard Hartline

July 3, 2015

Occasionally I browse through old emails that my children have sent me over the years.  (Call me sentimental.)  The other day I came across one from my son Alex in which he shared with me a powerful illustration of God's love and grace as displayed in the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It clearly illustrates how much God loves every lost person and how serious we should view Jesus' sacrifice for us.  Here it it.

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States.  Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution.  Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major. 

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.  Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.  This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve.  Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry.  Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen.  He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. "How many push-ups can you do?"  Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."  "200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"  Steve replied, "I don't know.  I've never done 300 at a time."  "Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.  "Well, I can try," said Steve.  "Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.  Steve said, "Well... I think I can....yeah, I can do it."  Dr. Christianson said, "Good!  I need you to do this on Friday.  Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room.  When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts.  No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls.  Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.  

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"  Cynthia said, "Yes."  Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"  "Sure!"  Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten.  Then Steve again sat in his desk.  Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.  Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"  Joe said, "Yes."  Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"  Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. 

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.  Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott.  Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve.  He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.  When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?" Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"  Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."  Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."  Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"  With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.  Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"  Dr. Christianson said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts.  Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it."  And he put a donut on Scott's desk. 

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little.  He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down.  You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.  Dr. Christianson started down the third row.  Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.  Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"  Sternly, Jenny said, "No."  Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"  Steve did ten.  Jenny got a donut. 

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room.  The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.  Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut.  There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.  Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely. 

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.  During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room.  When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room.  He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.  Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next.  Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time.  He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.  Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"  Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups.  You are in charge now.  You can do them any way that you want."  And Dr. Christianson went on. 

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"  Jason didn't know what was going on.  Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."  Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"  Steve said, "Yes, let him come in.  Give him a donut."  Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now.  Jason, do you want a donut?"  Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on.  "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."  "Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"  Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort.  Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down. 

Dr Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters.  Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity.  By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.  The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular.  Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"  Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."  Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"  Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda. 

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan.  "Susan, do you want a donut?"  Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry.  "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"  Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book.  Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade.  Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work.  Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups.  I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups.  He and I made a deal for your sakes.  Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?" 

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor. 

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life.  And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten."  Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.  "Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words." 

Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever.  Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.  Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"

 



Should Christians Approve of Homosexual Marriages?

by Pastor Richard Hartline

March 10, 2015

We are living in an extremely strange society today.  Every day the news is filled with people demanding their rights or the rights of others to do things that have always been unacceptable or even illegal in the past - illegal immigrants, illicit drug use, homosexuals, baby killers (a.k.a. abortionists), and others.  These people do not just seek their rights.  They actually demand that everyone, especially Christians, surrender their rights, mute their long-held beliefs, and celebrate the decision of some to live their lives contrary to God's Word and will?  And why are so many Christians caving in to such pressure? 

I can understand depraved, unregenerate men and women thinking wrong and wanting their sin to be accepted, but how can someone who claims to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ condone that which God condemns? 

It amazes me (and disappoints me) that so many Christians accept homosexual marriage as a God-given right.  I heard of one of our local preachers posting Biblical evidence of the sin of homosexuality on his Facebook page and then being condemned by many who claim to be Christians.  I want to say to any man of God who stands for Truth, God's approval is much more important than man's.  "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31)

There are some fundamental errors in thinking that God could possibly approve of homosexual marriage (or of homosexuality itself.)

Following the creation of man, God created woman as a "help meet" for man. (Genesis 2:20-24)  The word "meet" means "fit."  Only the woman was a proper fit for man.  God didn't created another man for man, but a woman. God instituted marriage after He created man and woman, and said that man would "cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."  In the Old Testament God said, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (Leviticus 18:22)  In the New Testament God said, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." (Romans 1:26-28)  And there is much more Scriptural proof that God condemns the practice of homosexuality. 

Here in Alabama a federal judge recently ruled that homosexuals must be allowed to marry. (By the way, I thank God for our State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for recognizing God's Law first and foremost, and seeking to enforce Alabama's law which demands traditional marriage between a man and a woman only.)  Of course, this made national news with photos of homosexuals lined up to get their licenses and saying their wedding vows to each other.

Common sense causes me to question a couple of things about the idea of homosexuals getting married.  (1) Why would anyone think homosexuals' vows mean anything since their whole lifestyle goes against the Author of truth and righteousness and law?  (2) How can they think that a "minister" adds any kind of validation to their legal union when the "minister" is acting contrary to the revealed will of God?  Wearing some robes, a collar, and holding a Bible does not make anyone a Christian, much less a man of God.  It is evident that many have, in their heart, thrown the Bible in the trash and embraced a godless philosophy of honoring man above God. 

Some so-called "ministers" have their photos taken marrying homosexuals and look so happy and are quoted as saying how it makes them so happy and teary-eyed to be a part of their wedding.  It makes me teary-eyed to see anyone who claims to represent God decide to go against the God of the Bible and make political correctness his god. 

Perhaps professing Christians who approve of homosexual marriage have forgotten that God says, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 1:22-25)

Several years ago I read an editorial by a man reporting on the Methodist church's voting on whether of not to accept homosexuals in churches.  He completed his editorial by saying that he was not a Christian, but could not help but wonder, if Christians accept the same sins that he did, to whom could he go when he decides it is time to get right with God and be saved.

In case you have forgotten, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." (I Cor. 5:20)  The child of God is to be in the world but "not of the world." (John 17:16)  And if you fear that the world will hate you if you will not accept and celebrate its wickedness, remember that the world did not accept Jesus either. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18)

Finally, God does love sinners who are involved in homosexuality.  He wants to save them from their sin and deliver them from their sinful, destructive lifestyle.  But, as with any other sinner, they must confess their sin, not accept it, and be forgiven by receiving Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  And as Christians we cannot be true witnesses for Christ by making people feel comfortable with their sin. 

Think about it.

 


April 15, 2014

Preparing For Special Recognition of the Lord's Resurrection

"Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?" (John 18:4)

Easter is almost here.  This Sunday churches everywhere will be celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That week before His Resurrection was certainly an event-filled week - His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing the temple, more teaching on the Mount of Olives, Judas' secret meeting with the Jewish rulers about betraying Jesus, the Last Supper, Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, His betrayal, His trial, and His crucifixion.  Along with all this Jesus still took time to teach and preach.  (And we thought we were busy!)

I am sure there is a lot going on in the lives of just about everyone reading this Pastor's Page.  Probably some are thinking about new clothes for Easter.  I know from visiting families around here that a lot of kids and parents are thinking and planning for Easter egg hunts.  Many parents of small kids are making plans for Easter baskets full of candy for the kids. 

But may we today think about Jesus' question in John 18:4, "Whom seek ye?"  With all the other things we are involved in this week, should we not take time to seek Jesus this week?  Easter should prompt us to prepare spiritually for a time of special recognition of Jesus' Resurrection. 

This preparation should surely include time spent in prayer for God's glory in our lives and in our church this Sunday.  Realizing the purpose of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection we should pray for souls to be saved and Christians to get involved in witnessing to the lost.  We should pray for our preachers to preach the Gospel in our churches with God's power.

Along with prayer, preparation for Easter should surely include inviting friends and family to be in church with us this Sunday.  There are probably folks who have told you that they will come to church with you "one day."  Why not call or visit them and ask them to make this Sunday the day.

I don't believe preparation for Easter can be complete without Christians reading the accounts of Jesus' Resurrection in the Bible.  Take some time each day this week and read Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John 18-20.  Worship of our resurrected Saviour will be even more vital and dynamic if we spend time in His word before the services.

Around the world people are calling this week a "Holy Week."  Why not make it a personal holy week for yourself by dedicating some time in personal preparation for Easter?

God Bless You,

Pastor Richard Hartline



 


“Facebook Christians”

By Pastor Richard Hartline

March 25, 2014

“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.” (Philippians 4:8)

I recently had occasion to check out Facebook.  This probably seems unreal to some of you folks who have been on Facebook for years, but I have never seen enough reason to participate.  I do live on planet Earth, but I am not on Facebook now, so don’t bother looking for me there (on Facebook, that is).  I just wanted to try to find out where some folks are and if some folks I haven’t seen for a while might have joined other churches.  

Many of my preacher friends, family members, and church members use Facebook for their churches and ministries, as well as personal contacts.  It is a good way to stay in touch with friends and keep up with how they are doing.  Like the rest of the internet, Facebook has great potential for good and great potential for bad.  Sadly, I discovered that many people on Facebook want to identify with both.  They talk about God, prayer, and church; but at the same time announce their immorality, drunkenness, and acceptance of the sins of society.  I now call them “Facebook Christians.”

I was reading in Isaiah chapter five this morning and read God’s pronouncement of “woes” on the children of Israel.  Israel still maintained the temple worship and talked about their God, Jehovah, but they had embraced the standards and sins of the heathen people of the land.  As a result God said “woe” was coming.  “Woe” means “affliction, grief, ruinous trouble, calamity.”  When God pronounces woe on a person, it means He sees what they are doing, and they are in trouble.  As I read Isaiah 5 I thought about some of the things posted on people’s Facebook page.

Isaiah 5:8 says, “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!”  There are some things that God just intends to stay private.  “Facebook Christians” want everyone to know exactly where they are and what they are doing at all times.  They are consumed with a false feeling of self-importance and pride.  They take photos of themselves driving, eating, watching TV; and post them on their page so everyone will see them.  They update their “friends” on the fact that they are at a red light, crossing a train track, on their way to work, in Walmart, or listening to a song on the radio.  Two words come to mind as I discovered such minute details of people’s lives – “Who cares?”  God does not intend for us to know everything about others’ lives.

In Isaiah 5:11 God says, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”  How proudly some “Facebook Christians” announce that they are going to get drunk or high or go the fridge and get a “cold one,” while on the same page talking about loving and blessing the Lord.  God is not impressed with an occasional acknowledgement of His existence but postings that would indicate that there is no God.  In fact, to the drunkard, God says in Isaiah 5:22, “Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink.”

In Isaiah 5: 18 God says, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope:”  One of the biggest disappointments for me was finding people I know claim to be saved openly announcing their immoral lifestyle on Facebook.  Married people announce to the world that they are “in a relationship” with a person other than their spouse.  God calls this fornication, but some fellow “Facebook Christians” comment that they are “so happy” for the fornicator, adulterer, and whoremonger.  Why?  God is not happy!  He says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)  And why announce their sin to the world?  Has Facebook erased the shame?

In Isaiah 5:20 God addresses the so-called “friends” who encourage a person in their sinful behavior.  “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  “Facebook Christians” label sincere Christians who try to help a person recognize their sinful behavior as hypocrites and judges.

Thankfully, some real friends of these “Facebook Christians” post admonitions to repent of sins and return to right living, but it seems that their posts are soon deleted and they are even “de-friended.”  Don’t people know that true friends want the best for other friends, even when it means telling them the truth about their faults?  Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

In Isaiah 5:21 God says, “Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”  It amazes me that “Facebook Christians” can come up with justification for almost anything.  They may quote Bible verses, but ignore them in order to apparently fit in with the lost crowd, too.  “God bless you,” and “God loves you,” may be followed by a post containing vile language.  One “Facebook Christian” I checked out even had some posts that where only curse words.  May I remind you that God says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain,” (Exodus 20:7) and “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

So what now?  Well, after looking at just a few people’s Facebook pages, I was so disappointed in what I was reading that I decided the best thing to do was log out and get off before I knew as much about people’s hearts as they want everyone to know.  It is sad that there is basically a whole new religion of “Facebook Christians” who want to have the reputation with some of still being “Christians” while at the same time be accepted and accepting of all the sins of society.

For myself, the verse I quoted at the beginning of this article comes to mind.  It is sad that you cannot read any Christian’s Facebook page and find only things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. I would challenge “Facebook Christians” to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.”  If you are saved, you know in your heart what you need to do.  First, clean up you heart by confessing and forsaking your sin.  Then, clean up your Facebook page.  Make it something that will please the Lord Jesus Christ, challenge Christians to serve Christ, and inspire the lost to be saved.


 


January 7, 2014

2014!  That is still amazing to me that time has passed so quickly.  Hopefully I am not making myself sound too old when I say I remember hearing a preacher preach that Jesus might come back in 1984 because the planets were going to line up and cause all kinds of natural disasters (which, by the way, did not come about).  At the time I thought, "1984?  That seems pretty far away!" Now it is far away, but in the opposite direction!  

Most people have probably been thinking about what they want to do in 2014.  I hope you plan to do more for God in 2014 than you did in 2013.  I want to see His glory in our church to a greater extent than ever before. 

We started 2014 out with a great service at church Sunday morning.  My little granddaughter, Jada, got saved Sunday morning!  She has been talking about salvation for a while.  She came forward in the invitation and her daddy, Alex, had the joy of leading her to the Lord Jesus Christ!  What a great answered prayer.

As I write this article today most everyone around here is just trying to stay warm.  It was 2 degrees when  woke up this morning, but it is warming up.  the temperature is now all the way up to 3.  I'll be glad when this polar air passes us.

Please pray for the niece of one of my church members.  She was in a terrible car wreck and is now in critical condition.  Also, please pray for one of the men in our church who will be having surgery tomorrow.

Until next time, I hope you have a blessed week.  Call or write those members that you missed last Sunday, and let's look forward to great services next week.

God Bless You, and Remember Jesus Loves You,

Brother Richard


December 10, 2013

The Walmart Christmas Experience

Thanksgiving is over, and the Christmas season is in full swing.  The Christmas season inspires kindness, joy, and a general uplifting attitude.  But sadly, for many it becomes a time of rushing, pressure, selfishness, and rudeness.  What does it inspire in your life?

I saw a Christmas play yesterday that got me to thinking about just that.  And it was, of all places, at Walmart!  No, it was not practiced, announced, and performed.  And no one was acting.  People were just doing what came naturally for them.  It was real!  Let me tell you about some of the characters I saw at Walmart.

There was a sweet lady who, like Mary, was "great with child." But she was willing to be a servant to others.  She was the Walmart greeter.  She reminded me of Mary who had to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem when she was about to be delivered.  When we entered the store she saw that Sandra was out of breath and asked if we needed a motorized cart.  Then she walked (with effort) all the way to the other entrance to get one. 

The star that led the wise men was there!  No, not the literal star, but someone who acted like the star.  Sandra was needing help finding a Christmas item, and a clerk who was putting out merchandise took time to lead her to where she could find it.  (She could have been looking for years for that item without this lady's help!)

The innkeeper was there who said, "I have no room."  He was shopping at Walmart yesterday.  He would block aisles, not moving over to let people by.  He actually attempted to ignore Sandra when she asked to please be excused for needing him to just move over a little so she could get by.  Think about others?  No Way!  And we found out these innkeepers travel in pairs sometimes!

Herod was there.  The original Herod was bothered that the focus was on the real King.  He thought only of himself.  While trying to maneuver between some innkeepers and a display of toothbrushes, Sandra accidentally bumped the display and knocked a bunch of toothbrushes on the floor.  She got out of her cart and picked them all up (which is what we should do).  Now some of us were raised to be willing to help an older lady do something like pick up toothbrushes.  But a bunch of Herods walked by and looked, but not one of them offered to help.

And the shepherds were there!  They were us!  At least that's who I thought about as we finally returned to our van.  We definitely had not been like the shepherds who found the Christ child in the manger.  We were more like the shepherds who returned "praising God."  We got to return to our house, and we were praising God that our shopping experience was over!  I even thought about the smell as the shepherds got closer to their sheep in the fields.  As we walked out of the store toward our car, we didn't smell the sheep, but there sure was a strong smell in the air (and it was not chestnuts roasting on an open fire).  It was the smell of cigarettes smoked right at the entrance by customers and employees of Walmart.  (I think the sheep would have smelled better.)

Looking back on the experience, I could not help but wonder, "Which character of the Christmas story do I portray each day?"  The greeter and the helpful clerk sure were blessings.  If everyone we encountered had been as rude and selfcentered as the Herods and the innkeepers, it would have been a REALLY bad day.  But two good people with good attitudes sure made a difference.

I have decided I want to smile, speak kindly, be helpful, and above all, lead people to the Lord Jesus Christ during this Christmas season and for the rest of my life.  As Christians let us not get caught up in the selfishness of the season, but rather let us remind all those we encounter of the love Jesus Christ has for them.  Show kindness by helping others.  Speak kindly to all about the love of God in sending His Son. 

Christmas will never be merry if we should lose the true spirit of the season.

Until next time, I hope you have a blessed week.  Call or write those members that you missed last Sunday, and let's look forward to great services next week.

Merry Christmas, and Remember Jesus Loves You,

Brother Richard


November 20, 2013

BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT?

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” – Psalm 100:4

In Psalm 100:4 God commands us to “be thankful.”  Sometimes we have a hard time thinking about what we should be thankful for.  God knew our human nature and helps us give thanks by reminding us of some things for which we can be thankful.  He did this for the children of Israel.  In the Old Testament He reminded the children of Israel to be thankful when they enjoyed the land He gave them. (Deut. 8:10)  God said to include thanksgiving with their sacrifices and offerings (Psalm 107:22).

Our Christian life is to be marked by thanksgiving.  “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Col. 2:7)  Regardless of our situation we are to give thanks to God.  “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  (I Thes. 5:18)  The Bible gives us plenty of things for which we should be thankful.

Be Thankful For God’s Righteous Judgments.  “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.”  (Ps. 119:62)  Others will misjudge you, but not God.  He knows our motivations and hearts.  Some of the hardest times I have had as a pastor came from people misjudging my decisions as I tried to follow God’s leadership.  I am thankful that at the Judgment Seat of Christ all the misunderstandings will be finally cleared up through His righteous judgments.

Be Thankful For The Fellowship Of God’s People.  “And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.” (Acts 28:15)  Like Paul on his way to Rome, we often tire in our race.  What a blessing to have Christian brothers and sisters who encourage and love us.  I thank God for my church family!

Be Thankful For Victory.   “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (I Cor. 15:57)  Thank God for the victories over besetting sins, for victories over bad situations, and for future victories.  We often pray quickly about hard times and trials we are experiencing and then forget to thank God when He answers prayer.  Thank Him for the victories in your life.

Be Thankful For The Gift Of God’s Son.  “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15)  Were there never to be another blessing, we could never sufficiently thank God for loving us so much that “he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Be Thankful For Opportunities For Service.  “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;” (I Tim. 1:12)  What a privilege that God would give us opportunities to do something for Him!  Like Paul, we should be ever thankful that God counted us faithful to serve Him.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and as Christians we have much for which to be thankful.  But rather than one day in the year, may we each make each day a day of true thanksgiving unto our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.


November 12, 2013

BE THANKFUL UNTO GOD

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” – Psalm 100:4

Someone has said, “Thankfulness is a thermostat of the soul.”  This is true in that the more we express our thankfulness, the healthier is our soul.  But thankfulness is also the thermometer of the soul.  You can guess the health of a soul by how much thankfulness is expressed by the mouth and what a person is thankful for. 

We often approach God with our requests, our burdens, and even reports about what is happening in our life.  But in Psalm 100:4 we are told we should approach Him always with thanksgiving.  One sure way of opening ourselves up for a spiritual struggle is to fail in the area of expressing thanks to God for all the things He does for us. 

Sometimes we may feel like we don’t have much for which to be thankful.  But God’s blessings on our lives are continuous.  Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”  We could never completely list, and will never be aware of, all the things God has done for us each day. 

Several years ago the heater went out in my truck, and it was an especially cold day.  I am not very mechanically inclined, so I did what I normally do with car trouble – I prayed for God to fix my car.  Well, He didn’t.  But He did bring to my mind how much better I had it than the folks who traveled in the cold before there were automobiles.  At least I was sheltered from the wind and rain, and I would not have to experience the cold for as long as those folks did in their wagons.  I had plenty for which to be thankful.  A few days passed before I was able to get the heater repaired, and although I didn’t like being cold, the cold reminded me to give God thanksgiving for His love and blessings toward me.

As we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving let us take seriously God’s desire to hear our voice giving thanks to Him as we approach Him.  May we each become more proficient at praising God with thanksgiving.  As Colossians 2:7 says, “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” 


11/6/13

Expressing Thankfulness

“I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD:  That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.  LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.”  (Psalm 26:6-8)

As a pastor I see many people who are experiencing suffering and many people who are experiencing blessing.  Right now in my church I have sick folks and well folks, folks who struggle financially and folks who live comfortably, folks who know what it is to grieve the death of loved ones and folks who have not had to walk through that valley as of yet. 

Someone has said, “Life happens,” and they were exactly right.  As Solomon said, “To every thing there is a season ...” (Eccl. 3:1a).  The important thing in life is not how to avoid trouble, but how to express thankfulness at all times – fair weather or storm.  David saw his purpose in life as being able to tell everyone about God’s wondrous works, and he said he would do it through “the voice of thanksgiving.”

Soon we will be observing Thanksgiving.  Some may have difficulty expressing thankfulness because of problems happening in their life.  How, in the midst of tribulation, is the child of God able to express true thankfulness?

First, if you have a family, be thankful for them.  For some, holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, remind us of loved ones who are no longer with us.  We can focus on those we have lost and express sadness and other negative emotions, or we can focus on family we have left and be thankful for them.  How thankful are you for the family God has given you?  Even if your family is not what it should be, if you are saved, you are part of a loving heavenly family.

Second, be thankful for opportunities to honor God with your witness and your testimony.  Perhaps you are going through great trials right now.  Your testimony will never be as outstanding as when you are in the midst of trials.  Look farther than your trial and thank God for what He is doing in your life.  “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (I Peter. 1:7)  You can sit back and ask, “Why,” or, like Job, you can allow your suffering to have a greater impact on our testimony by expressing thankfulness even when life is difficult.

Third, be thankful for all that God has provided for you.  You may be thinking of all the things you don’t have, but look at what you do have.  Be thankful for God’s goodness (Psa. 34:3-5), peace and protection (Psa. 77:1-3), and God’s comfort (Psa. 37:7).  We can get hold of God anytime and anywhere.  Express thankfulness for the privilege of approaching His throne, talking to Him, and building a personal relationship with him.

For the Christian, thanksgiving is not merely a holiday, it is to be a way of life.  Publish the wondrous works of God with your voice of thanksgiving. 


10/29/13

Because He Is Risen

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (I Corinthians 15:20)

A young boy stood outside an art store looking intently at a painting of Jesus on the cross.  A man approached and asked, "Do you know who that is?"  The boy answered, "Yes, sir, that is Jesus the Savior who died on the cross to save me.  Those people around Him are the soldiers who killed Him.  And that woman who is crying was His mother."

The man patted the boy on the head and walked away.  He had not gone far when he felt a tug on his sleeve.  The same little fellow he had spoken to moments before said, "Please, sir, I forgot to tell you something else. Jesus is not on that cross anymore.  He is alive because He rose again.  He is in heaven today."

That youngster knew the living Savior who died and rose and lives today.  He knew the truth of the gospel.  It is the fact that Jesus is risen that gives power to the message of the Gospel of Christ.

Because "Christ is risen from the dead" we know we can be saved from our sins.  In the Old Testament the priest had to offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement correctly or he would die behind the veil in the tabernacle.  If he came forth the offering was accepted.  Jesus came forth from the grave proving that His offering of His blood was accepted to atone for our sins.  We know that we can be saved by faith in Him.

Because "Christ is risen" we know that we have a Saviour who not only saves us, but walks with us and helps us day by day.  Nothing can happen to us that He does not know about and that He cannot use for our good.  No matter how dark the moment, I can rest in the knowledge that Jesus hears my prayer, walks with me through trials, and sustains and strengthens me.

Because "Christ is Risen" I know I am ready for that which people fear and dread most—death.  Jesus has given us victory over death by triumphing over in His Resurrection.  He is called the "Firstfruits" because His Resurrection assures us that we will rise also.  This is an assurance only believers in Christ can have.

Before he died the famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre tried to battle feelings of despair by saying, "I know I shall die in hope."  But then he would sadly add, "But hope needs a foundation."  The only foundation for hope after death is the Lord Jesus Christ Who has defeated death and promised eternal life to all who will received Him as their Saviour.

If you have not yet been saved, pray now and ask Jesus to save you, and He will.  He said, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13)  You can trust Him.  Call upon Him now.

For more help with getting assurance of salvation click here or send us an email.  We would love to introduce you to the risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.


10/17/13

A MIND TO WORK

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)

Under inspiration of God the prophet Nehemiah gave the reason for the quick completion of building the wall of Jerusalem as simply "the people had a mind to work."  It was God's will for the wall to be built, but God uses people.  Unless the people have a mind to work, the wall will not be built.

The same is true of the church today.  God wills that souls be reached by the church, that Christians grow in grace and knowledge, that members of the church be encouraged in their Christian life.  These are but a few of the goals God has for a church, but they are goals that can only be reached when "the people have a mind to work."

I am so thankful for what God has done at our church through the good folks He has brought together here.  Only in eternity will we realize the extent of the great work He has done through our members.  But there is much more to be done until Jesus returns.  The determining factor in how much more God will do through this church is if the people will be willing to work.

We need to ask ourselves, "If everyone's mind toward God’s work was like mine, how much would we be accomplishing for God?"  If the answer is "little or nothing," then let's change our mind from what it is to "a mind to work.”


10/8/13

Time For Revival!

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? (Psalm 85:6)

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)

They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word: (Hosea 14:7)

 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

This Sunday, October 13, our church begins four days of revival services with evangelist Jay Nolan.  The services begin each night at 6:30.  This is a meeting we have been greatly anticipating.  Brother Jay is a dynamic Bible preacher, and we look forward to hearing his preaching and are inviting everyone we can to attend the meetings.

But as we approach the revival meetings we must be sure to not only prepare by inviting others for services, but to also prepare our hearts for genuine revival.  The Bible teaches that if we apply Scriptural principles for revival to our lives, God will meet with us personally and bring revival in our hearts.

First of all, God says He can revive a person who has a contrite and humble spirit. (Isaiah 57:15)  A humble person is one who truly knows that he is nothing but is willing to allow God to make him into whatever God wants.  A contrite spirit is a broken spirit.  It refers to a person who will allow God's will to take precedence over his own.  God says He can revive this kind of person.

Secondly, God can revive the Christian who is willing to spend time alone with God with the sole purpose of knowing His presence. (Hosea 14:7)  God refers to this as "dwelling under his shadow."  To dwell under His shadow you have to pay attention to where He is, get real close, and spend time there.  God can revive this kind of Christian.

Thirdly, God can revive the Christian who desires to hear and obey God's Word. (Habakkuk 3:2)  This means going beyond interest in the truths of the Bible to a willingness to put obedience to God's Word above anything else.  God can revive this kind of Christian. 

I pray that each and every member of our church will prepare our hearts now to be revived by following these simple truths.  God wants us to rejoice through revival.  He has told us who He can revive.  Let us each apply these truths to our lives for a mighty revival from God!


9/24/13

Success and Failure Often Begins In The Home

They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:

But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.

(Psalm 106:21-25)

The children of Israel serve as an example of how easy and dangerous it is for God’s people to take Him for granted, lose our focus on Him, and become trapped by our own evil hearts.  They sinned against God so much that He would have destroyed them had it not been for the intercession of Moses on their behalf.  Their lives became characterized by their willful rebellion against God’s will & against God’s leader. 

But Israel’s fall into sin didn’t start in a public meeting with all those who felt as rebellious as themselves.  God says it started in their tents.  Verse 25 says, “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” 

Take care what you talk about in you home or in small gatherings with other church members.  There is a real danger to the soul when we allow ourselves to get caught up in griping and criticizing God’s leadership and God’s working in our church.  Church splits are not usually the result of real problems in the church, but are the results of families indulging in criticism and gossip about the church when away from the church.  Satan has a way of making sure dissatisfied Christians find other dissatisfied Christians.  Then with numbers growing they decide they must be right to be dissatisfied, and they become rebellious and public in their rebellion.

God judged Israel again and again for their murmuring, and we can be sure He will still judge and punish us when we get caught up in the griping game.  Avoid this danger by staying focused on trusting God.  And when you question what the pastor or teacher or deacon is doing, don’t sit in your home murmuring and complaining, but pray for them and go talk to them.  Don’t fall into the trap of spreading your problems only to a few family or friends.  Your attitude will worsen and spread.

So, remember the children of Israel who “murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.”  Don’t invite God’s judgment into your life by fostering discord in your home.


9/10/13

Do You Have Vision?

“Where there is no vision, the people perish:”  (Proverbs 29:18)

Today, as at no other time in our lives, we need to take heed to the challenge and warning laid before us in Proverbs 29:18.  Too many of God’s people have allowed their vision to become blurred by the cares of this world, by the seeking of worldly comforts, and by the fear of man.  Almost every week we come face-to-face with people who at one time had a vision to do a work for God, but they have set that vision aside in order to live a more comfortable life.

We must realize that as long as we have no vision people are truly perishing!  Families perish for parents’ lack of vision for what God wants to do in their children’s lives.  Churches die for want of people who will give sacrificially of their time and possessions in order to see the work of God advanced.  Christians fall away because no one has enough vision for their potential in service for God to uphold them in prayer and encourage them.  And, worst of all, the lost are perishing into an eternal hell because God’s people lack a vision of souls perishing for want of a witness.  The tragedy of people perishing must be overcome, and it can only be overcome as God’s people pray for a vision and then work to see that vision fulfilled.

We must begin with a vision of a changed life.  The characteristic of the Christian life can be summarized by the word “change.”  We should have a vision of continually becoming more like Jesus.  We do not have to wallow in sorrow because of past failure.  We can give ourselves to Jesus as a living sacrifice and allow Him to make us into what He desires.  Your potential is as great as the promises of God!

We must have a vision of accomplishments.  Open your eyes to that which God would have you be a part in making a difference somewhere.  We are often painfully aware of our lack of talent or resources.  But God has given us the promise, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13)  Ask God for a vision of doing something for Him.

We must have a vision for lost souls.  Every Christian should pray, “Lord, help me to see others as you see them!”  When we see people as lost souls without Jesus and realize that we have the message of salvation, then we will see God give us greater boldness for witnessing.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  Ask yourself, “How is my vision?”  Have you become satisfied that someone else is working for God in the church?  Have you become satisfied with peace at any price?  Do you have a vision for yourself, your family, your church, and others?  Why not pray and ask God for a vision, and ask Him to show you what He wants you to do to see that vision fulfilled.


8/24/13

The High Cost Of Unbelief

“So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  (Hebrews 3:19)

There is no way to estimate the high cost of unbelief.  God has many blessings that must be claimed by faith.  This does not mean that we merely believe in our mind that something is true and then say it with our mouths. The "word of faith" movement that claims that you can confess something in faith and it will come true is Satan's fairytale for shallow Christians.  Rather, we claim God's promises from the Bible when our belief is followed by action that causes God's promise to be a part of our life.  God uses Israel as an example of how we forsake the blessings of God simply by failing to believe Him and act in faith upon His promises.

A Serious Provocation

“For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.”

(Hebrews 3:16)

 After Moses led Israel up to the land God had promised them, they would not go forward and claim that land because they did not believe God was able to help them overcome the obstacles ahead.  God had plainly said that the land was theirs.  The people had seen God's hand of provision and protection in their journey through the wilderness.  With God there was no room for failure and no reason for them to hesitate moving forward into the place of blessing.  But most of the children of Israel doubted God and provoked Him to anger by discounting His word and His prophet Moses. They refused to move, and by so doing refused God's blessing.

They were guilty of the same failure many of us are guilty.  They compared their circumstances and the obstacles ahead to their own abilities.  God was not calling upon them to show their strength, but their faith!  He would take care of the results if they would just believe Him and get involved.  When you know God's will, do it.  Don't provoke Him!

A Sad Proclamation

“But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” 

 (Hebrews 3:17,18) 

God takes unbelief seriously.  As He moves to show His pleasure to those who believe and trust Him, He also moves to show His displeasure in those who display doubt.  The Bible says He was grieved with Israel for forty years.  Unbelief cost them that which they had prayed for all their lives - freedom and rest in their own land.  When they refused to believe God, He proclaimed that they would never enter into His rest. 

I wonder how many of our prayers God has been ready to answer, but our own unbelief and failure to obey His word caused us to lose that answer.  It is truly a sad thing when God proclaims our loss of His blessing.

A Solemn Prohibition 

 “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  (Hebrews 3:19)

The key words here are, "So we see." God intends for us to learn a lesson from the Israelites.  If we want to live a victorious Christian life and experience true peace, we must take care that we don't allow unbelief to have a place in our lives.  We have a merciful and gracious Saviour who desires to richly bless us.  He has a plan for your life that includes rewards for faithfulness.  Let us each make our decision today that we will believe God and obey Him, looking at His capability to bring His promises to pass. 


8/13/13

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

 “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” - I Samuel 17:29

Years ago on a bridge in Detroit, Michigan a 33 year old woman was dragged from her car and beaten while 30 to 40 people stood by and watched. She managed to escape and jumped from the bridge into the river because her assailant was chasing her with a crowbar. She drowned and her body was found downriver the next morning. How many people would it have taken to have stopped it from happening? In that crowd of people that watched as the woman was beaten and murdered surely there were some who cared, but they did nothing! In this tragedy we see the truth of the old saying that all it takes for evil to take over is for good people to do nothing. It is time for people to hear David's question loud and clear, "Is there not a cause?"

As I think of what could possibly cause people to stand by and watch something like this happen I think of several problems in our society. First, we have become a society of spectators. Rather than living our lives and experiencing life for ourselves, we let television, radio and video games provide a substitute life for us. We can crash a plane or car, wound or kill an imaginary enemy, and watch a church service without even being affected. When it is over we simply change channels. We become molded into watching anything and then just separating ourselves from it by changing channels.

Secondly, people have accepted the world's philosophy of not getting involved. We think everyone has their own problems, and we should just try to have as few problems ourselves as we can. That is the same way of thinking that caused us to get into World War II. No one offered to do anything about Hitler until he began killing and oppressing their own nation and families. But by that time it was too late for many! When trouble hits home we all wish someone would get involved! It may or may not cost us something to get involved with helping others, but it will always cost something if we refuse to help. "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." James 4:17 

A Worse Tragedy

Every day in our city and around the world the newspapers report the deaths of countless people in the obituaries. Each obituary represents a person who has slipped out into eternity. Their eternal home has been decided. They are either in Heaven or Hell. Many of these are people that with whom we had opportunity to speak or even be friends. But many of these people never had anyone to step forward and help them when they were facing the greatest danger of their life. When people's eternal souls hang in the balance, too many Christians are standing back watching refusing to get involved. I wonder how many people, at the end of their lives, like the woman on the bridge, wish someone would have stepped forward to try to rescue them. 

We know that the Bible says we are all sinners and will have to spend eternity in Hell because of our sins. We also know that Jesus loves us and died to pay for our sins, and that if we will simply call on Him, -He will save us from our sins. It would take so little time and effort to take this message to people. Let us, as God's people, become involved in the business of saving souls. Like David, let us trust God's power and provision and be motivated by a cause (eternal souls) and get busy!


1/7/13

Forgetting & Reaching

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," (Philippians 3:13)

At the passing of another year we would do well to apply Paul's principle for living found in Philippians 3:13. For many the year 2012 held events that we would be glad to forget. The presidential election, for many, was a disappointment. Some folks went through trials of sickness and physical suffering, and some went through deep economic trials.

But there were also victories and blessing during 2012. Souls were saved in church. In 2012 couples were married, babies were born, college degrees were earned, and jobs were attained. As with every year there were both good and bad experiences. Now what are we going to do in 2013.

As a Christian we must realize that God has given us more time to serve Him. It is time to forget the failures and victories of 2012 and, in 2013, do the work of the church with greater fervor - obeying the Great Commission Jesus gave to the church. The most urgent need this world has is its need for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Until Jesus returns for His church we are to be busy winning the lost, baptizing them, and teaching them to do for others what we did for them.

I believe that many churches and Christians got sidetracked by the election last year. It is time to get back on track. May we each determine that 2013 will be a year in which we will truly "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." And may we remember that the highest and first calling of God for every Christian is winning and discipling the lost.



11/20/12

THE GRATITUDE ATTITUDE

"Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." (Psalm 95:2)

God invites us to "come before His presence with thanksgiving."  How wonderful that we actually have a holiday for Thanksgiving when we can focus on thanking God for His abundant blessing on our country and toward us as individuals.  We have much for which we should be grateful and express our gratitude to God. 

In the Bible God gives us examples of people who were truly grateful to the Lord for what He did for them.  By looking at these people we can learn the importance of having a "gratitude attitude."

Gratitude Should Be Shown

We show true gratitude by keeping promises made to the Lord.  "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:" (Psalm 50:14)  When Jonah prayed from the whale's belly he said, "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." (Jonah 2:9)

We show gratitude through having a loving relationship with Christ and giving sacrificially to Him.  In Luke 7:36-47 a woman who had lived an immoral life but was forgiven of her sin by Jesus unashamedly washed Jesus feet with her tears, wiped them off with her hair, kissed His feet, and anointed them with a precious oil.  Jesus commended her and said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."(Luke 7:47)  We will never know the volume of the sins Jesus has forgiven us, so we can never express a sufficient amount of gratitude.  Let us give to His work and cultivate a vibrant, intimate relationship with Him.

Gratitude Should Be Shared

If we are truly grateful to the Lord for His blessings we should share that gratitude with others.  Share with your family why you are grateful for God's blessings.  When Jesus healed the nobleman's son in John 4:46-53, he not only felt thankful, but he shared the reason for his gratitude with his family.  As a result of hearing that the son was healed at the moment Jesus told him his son would live, his whole household was saved.

In Luke 8 Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man in Gadara.  He wanted to go with Jesus, but in obedience to Jesus' command he "published throughout the whole city how great things Jesus had done unto him." (Luke 8:39)

Gratitude Is Rewarded

In Luke 17:11-19 ten lepers were healed by the Lord Jesus Christ.  After being healed one turned back, gave glory to God, and thanked Jesus for His healing him.  Then, verse 19 says, "And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."  All ten were already healed.  But they had more needs than just healing from leprosy, and this man found that expressed gratitude was rewarded by the continued involvement of Jesus in his life.  When we are saved from sin we should live a life of gratitude to the Lord.  When we do we will find that He will continually meet more needs in our life.

I hope each of us will take advantage of a day called "Thanksgiving" to try to humbly express our gratitude to the Lord for salvation and continued blessing.



11/13/12

Strength To Prevent Stumbling & Ruin

"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." (Psalm 119:165)

God's design for the life of a child of God is that we would live in great peace.  This does not speak of the quality of the peace, but of the quantity of peace.  God wants us to always experience an abundance of His peace. 

Many folks misunderstand what peace is.  They think that peace is the absence of problems and turmoil.  If that were so, no one would have peace very long in this world! 

The peace that the Bible speaks of involves a feeling of safety, emotional health, and wholeness.  Jesus said that this real peace comes only from Him.  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."(John 14:27)  In John 16:33 He also said that it is certain we will have tribulation in the world, but at the same time we can have peace.  So peace is something we can experience even in the midst of trouble.  How is this possible?

Psalm 119:165 says it comes in abundance when we cultivate a love for God's Word - the Bible.When we love God's Law we endeavor to conform both our hearts and our hands to it.  We conform our hearts to God's Word by reading it and loving the things God loves and believing His Word is right and appropriate in all circumstances of life.  We conform our hands to God's Word when we take it beyond our thoughts and start reflecting it in our actions.  Through learning and practicing God's truths we can take a firm hold on God's will and trust in His promises.

When we are walking in this "great peace" that loving God's Word produces, God promises us that "nothing shall offend them."  I use to think that this meant that nothing would hurt our feelings, but it goes far beyond that.  The word "offend" speaks of stumbling and ruin.  It speaks of a collapse of a person's life for Christ. 

When we are offended we can lose sight of the future Christ has for us and the importance of a present devotion to Christ.  We can forget all the great things God has done for us in the past and focus only on the rotten deal we think we are getting right now.  Many have done this and have stumbled into ruin.  Only at the Judgment Seat of Christ will we realize the lost potential of Christians who have been offended.

Offenses, attacks, persecutions, and trouble come to everyone.  But in the midst of these we can find a peace that will keep us going if we will love God's Word.  The church is not here today because of people who found a way of no problems.  It is here because there were men and women who, in the midst of fierce storms and deep troubles, never despaired because of the great peace God used to prevent them from stumbling.

May we decide today to follow God's plan, experience His promise, and never stumble.



11/7/12

The Christian's Responsibilty Regarding The President

Here in the United States the 2012 election is history and Barack Obama has been reelected as president.  More than ever it is important for Christians to be obedient to God's Word and live with an awareness of His purpose for having us here now.

There are some facts that the Bible gives us that we should all remember regarding our government leaders, and especially our president. 

(1) God is in control even when ungodly men rule.

"By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." - Proverbs 8:15

"And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:" - Daniel 2:21

(2) Sometimes a ruler is a result of a people rejecting God's will.

"They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off." - Hosea 8:4 

(3) God sometimes gives us a ruler to punish a nation.

"I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath." - Hosea 13:11

Regardless of why we got the president we have, we are Christians, and it is imperative that we obey God regarding our president.  What does God say we are to do?

Respect The One Who Holds The Office Of President

We do not have to like the man or agree with his policies.  But we are still to honor the office of president regardless of who holds it.  "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." (I Peter 2:17)

Pray For The One Who Holds The Office Of President

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Tim. 2:1-4)

How are we to pray for our president?

  1. Pray that his policies will promote "a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (I Tim. 2:2)
  2. Pray for his salvation. (I Tim. 2:4)
  3. Pray that he will live right. (Prov. 16:12)
  4. Pray that he will not be swayed by wicked men. (Prov. 25:5)
  5. Pray that he will not be swayed by gifts. (Prov. 29:4)
  6. Pray that he will make informed decisions in accordance with God’s will. (Prov. 25:2)

What our country will be like four years from now is uncertain.  But there are two things that ARE certain - God is in control and God answers prayer.  May we each commit ourselves to handle all of life, including our attitude regarding the president, in accordance to God's will.



6/26/12

Getting Back Where You Know You Should Be

"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." (Revelation 2:5)

Sunday was a great day at church.  Not only did we have good services, but the Patch the Pirate Club blessed us on Sunday evening with a performance of songs, Bible verses, and a review of some of the teaching they are receiving in their class.  Three of the sailors earned special awards.  These children and their leaders are doing a great job.

We enjoyed a special blessing in seeing one of our folks we have been praying for get his heart right with the Lord and get back in church.  There are so many backslidden Christians who once had a testimony of being saved and showing their salvation through faithful church attendance, but now avoid church and embrace sin. 

This brings me to our passage from Revelation 2.  The Lord Jesus Christ warns us to "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen."  If you have compromised your Christian life and testimony, it is time to remember the way things were when you loved Jesus and tried to live for Him.  He wants you to be close to Him, and you need His will for your life.

In Proverbs 13:15 the Bible says, "the way of transgressors is hard."  Some will say, "Well, it wasn't easy living the Christian life," but even in hard times a Christian living for God has a comfort from Christ that the backslider cannot enjoy.  If your Christian life is a memory, God wants you to go back to the "first works."  Let me give you just three "first works" you need in order to get back to God's place of blessing for you.

First, hold the Bible as your standard of behavior.  God's word supplies the direction we need for making right decisions. 

  • It is profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • It is living and penetrating (Hebrews 4:12). 
  • It is eternal. (Isaiah 40:8)  That means it will still work for you.
  • It is essential. (Matthew 4:4)  You can't make it without it!

Second, live your life according to your faith in God.  As Romans 1:17 says, "The just shall live by faith." 

  • Continuing victory is dependent on faith. (I John 5:4)
  • Our battle against Satan can only be won by faith. (I Pet. 5:8-9)
  • We are to be constantly building our faith. (Jude 20)
  • We build are faith through the Bible. (Rom. 10:17)

Third, draw always nearer to God. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."  (James 4:7-8)  God does not say to hold the world at arms length.  We are not right with God because we are a certain distance from the world.  We draw nigh to God when we confess and forsake sin and get our hearts clean and right with Him.

So, won't you agree with God that it is time to get back to where you should be?  Do you "remember therefore from whence thou art fallen?"  Then you are close to getting things right.  Now, simply "repent and do the first works."  What did you do first when you received Christ as Saviour?  You prayed, didn't you?  It is time to pray now.  I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  Jesus is ready to hear you.



6/19/12

Eternal Live - What It Is & How To Get It

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." (I John 5:11)

What a wonderful thing it is to know that there is a record in Heaven of that fact that God has given us eternal life!  But we must understand that the record is there only for those who have received God's Son, Jesus Christ, as their Saviour.

There are many misconceptions regarding what eternal life is.  Some folks think it is about reincarnation.  Some believe the cartoon version of eternal life that we have our own little cloud and harp, and we will strum our harps for all eternity with a contented look on our faces.  (I don't know about you, but that would not keep me contented for long!)  Some religions teach that eternal life means becoming a part of the universe.

I think the best definition I have ever heard for eternal life was given to me by a nine year old girl.  I had just led her to the Lord in children's church, and I asked her where she would go if she died now.  Her reply was, "Heaven."  I then asked her why she would go to Heaven, and she said, "Because Jesus just gave me eternal life."  To make sure she wasn't just repeating a term she had heard us use I asked her what eternal life is, to which she replied, "That means I will live forever in Heaven with Jesus!"  What a great, Biblical definition.  It fits with the Bible teaching regarding what eternal life actually is.

Isn't it amazing that a little child can understand what eternal life is and how to receive it, yet so many adults miss it because it is so simple.  All it takes is accepting and acting on the following truths:

  • Admit that you are one of the people Jesus wants to help - a sinner.  Romans 5:8 says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
  • Understand that you have a problem only Jesus can solve.  You are dead in tresspasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;"
  • Realize the price Jesus paid to be able to freely offer you eternal life.  Matthew 16:21 says, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day."
  • Pray the prayer Jesus wants to hear.  It is basically the same prayer Peter prayed when he was about to perish in the sea in Matthew 14:30 - "Lord, save me!"

Without Jesus Christ we have no claim to eternal life.  "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:"  Why don't you pray to Jesus right now and receive Him as your Saviour?  If you need more information about salvation you can read more details on the "Heaven" page or contact us by filling out the form on the "Contact Us" page. 



6/5/12

Religious, But Lost

"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? 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." (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today, just as we read in this Bible passage, many people are saying, "Lord, Lord ..." without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as thier Saviour.  Multiplied thousands around the world go through religious rituals without ever having been born again.  There is a tow-fold sadness about any religious activity that does not include knowing Jesus personally as Saviour. 

First, it is sad knowing the emptiness many feel that drives them to do just about anything to try to find some peace.  But there is no peace to be found apart from receiving Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Secondly, it is sad to know that religious ferver will suffice for many becasue they do not want Jesus Christ, only approval by religious leaders and friends.  On the day of judgment both of these types of people will find that their works, no matter how wonderful they seemed in life, buy them no approval by God.  In fact, their works (preaching, demonstrations of power, and wonderful works) actually serve to bring them to condemnation because they trusted in themselves, not Christ. 

The only work God wants us to do for salvation is believing on Jesus Christ to save us from our sin.  John 6:29 says, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."  The key to being ready for judgment is found in a person, not a task.  Jesus told those in Matthew 7:23, "... I never knew you."  The Bible is plain that everyone can and must know Jesus by receiving Him into your life as your only hope for redemption from your sin.  John 1:!2 says, "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:"  Roman 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."  Have you done that?  If not, why don't you do it now?



3/20/12

If God's Not There, I Won't Go! - Exo. 33:12-15

“And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.   Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence."
(Exodus 33:12-15)

God gave Moses the privilege and responsibility of leading the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land.  He had not gone far before he found out that this was no job to face without the power, leadership, and presence of God.  They had barely gotten out of Egypt when the people began griping about no water, griping about the food God was providing, rebelling against God's instructions, and even making a golden calf to worship in the place of God. 

In chapter 33 Moses asked who was going with him.  God told him He would be going with him.  Moses said, "If God is not there, then I'm not going!"

We need to learn a valuable lesson from Moses' attitude.  Too many times we rush into decisions without even considering whether or not God is going to bless with His presence and power.  Good people quit great ministries to go somewhere else without thinking about if God is going to be there. 

On the other hand, too many of us are willing to jump into anything or "give it a shot" because "all the churches are doing it."  We need to take time to consider if God is in it.  Like Moses, we need to say, "If God is not there, I won't go!"

A few years ago we were suddenly seeing "WWJD" everywhere. ("What Would Jesus Do)  It was on bracelets, pencils, notebooks, and anything else the stores would sell.  The problem was that most people didn't study their Bible to find out what Jesus would do. 

It would always be better to just pray about everything and live by the standard rule stated my Moses - If God is not there, I won't go!



3/6/12

No Man Cared For My Soul

“I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. (Psalm 142:4)

We had such a blessed day Sunday  I preached Sunday morning from this text, and God blessed with a serious time of surrender for many of our folks at the altar.  We get so caught up in our day-to-day business and the planned events of life that we sometimes forget to listen to the heart of our Saviour saying, "Be witnesses unto me."

David was on the run from Saul.  He remembered Samuel coming to his house and anointing him to be the king of Israel, but that seemed a long way off as he hid in a cave from Saul.  His men were with him to fight for him, but they could not speak to the need of his heart.  God had him write down his feelings, and from this Psalm we read one of the saddest verses in Scripture - "... no man cared for my soul."

Think about the condition of the lost.  Without Christ a person has no present peace or future hope.  Yet they live each day with the knowledge that they need something to be right with God.  Their heart is empty.  They try to fill the emptiness with entertainment, work, sports, and other things; but when the day is over the emptiness and dread of eternity is still there.

That anyone would say, "No man cared for my soul," is so sad because salvation is readily available to all.  It is already completely paid for and can be received freely.  When Jesus died on the Cross He said, "It is finished;" not, "It is started." (John 19:30)  Since it is finished, God says it need only be received to save a soul from hell. (John 1:12)

The reality of the lost condition of mankind without Christ and the availability of a free salvation to all who would believe is great news, but someone has to care enough to tell the lost about it.  Sadly the condition of the saved will cause many on Judgment Day to say, "No man cared for soul."  Most Christians seem to have no sense of debt to share the wonderful story of salvation.  Most have little sense of urgency to the task of witnessing to the lost.  While Christ said we are to "look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others," many Christians are completely absorbed with self-interest and too busy to make time to care for someone's soul.

As Christians, we need to ask ourselves, "Is it alright that anyone with whom I come in contact should stand before God one day knowing that no one but Jesus cared for his soul?"  We need to put some faces with the truth of the Great White Throne Judgment found in Revelation 20.  See your lost loved ones, your friends, your coworkers standing before God in the multitude that is about to be cast in to the lake of fire.

Someone MUST care for their soul today.  May each of us make our main business each day the giving of the Gospel to some poor lost soul so that no one around us will say, "No man cared for my soul."



2/28/12

Precious Death Of A Saint

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)

This verse contains one of the most blessed truths any person can grasp - death, for the Christian, is a precious thing in God's sight.  I was reminded of this truth early this morning.  I received a telephone call from my aunt.  She shared with me that my cousin died during the night.  He had no severe health problems.  He was fine the night before.  But for some reason, during the night he silently went home to be with the Lord.  I want to tell you a little about a man who's life was a testimony and challenge to me.

My cousin's name was Wayne.  He was always one of my favorite cousins, as well as a wonderful friend.  He was four years older than me, and we didn't get to spend a lot of time together because we always lived very far from each other.  But our visits together were always a blessing.  Four years was a pretty big difference when we were little, but Wayne still made me feel like I fit in with him, even though he was a lot older.  As adults, four years didn't seem at all that much, and we enjoyed true fellowship together when he would come to Fort Payne with his family.

Wayne seemed to always be happy.  Anytime I was around him, he encouraged me with a smile, compliments, and an optimistic attitude that was contagious.  Maybe he was down sometimes, but I never saw it.

Wayne's death would be extremelly saddening except for one thing - He was a genuine child of God with a glowing testimony.  He would gladly tell you that he was saved, but his salvation showed in his speech, his attitude, and in his life as well. 

Wayne's challenging life and firm belief in the Lord Jesus Christ turns his death into something precious, instead of tragic.  He leaves a legacy and a testimony.  There is a reunion going on in Heaven.  Wayne's father, my uncle Luther, went to Heaven a couple of years ago.  Today they were reunited. 

Please pray for Wayne's dear wife and two sons and the rest of the family.  If the Lord is willing, I plan to go to the memorial service to be held at his church.  We will miss him, but we'll meet again in Heaven.  Until then, I hope my life and yours can be used by the Lord to encourage others and one day be recognized as precious.



2/14/12

"Too Wonderful" Love - Proverbs 30:18-19

 

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:  The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” (Proverbs 30:18-19)

Today is Valentine’s Day.  Most folks around here have made plans to express their love for their wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend by buying a gift or dining out.  Solomon said this love between a man and a made is “too wonderful for me.”  God made us with the capacity to love someone of the opposite sex with a love that is clean, devoted, and growing.  “Too wonderful” means it is powerful and extraordinary.

There are different kinds of love spoken of in the Bible which can basically be classified as erotic love, brotherly love, and unmerited love.  This special love between and husband and wife is simply classified as “too wonderful.”

“Too wonderful” love is a romantic love that makes the marriage sweet.  The need for romance never expires in a marriage.   A marriage should be punctuated with affection.  Both men and women need to feel that their spouse desires them. 

Be aware, however, that what comes naturally at first requires practice to continue.  I heard once about a husband and wife who went to their pastor for counseling.  The wife said that her husband never told her he loved her anymore.  Her husband replied, “I told you I loved you when I married you and that if that ever changed, I’d let you know!”

Several simple things can keep romantic love alive.  Practice romantic love by occasional romantic dates, flowers and gifts (not just on special days), special attention (such as opening doors for her), and especially spoken words of love.

“Too wonderful” love is a learning love that makes the marriage fulfilling.   Lips are for talking as well as kissing.  Communication (talking and listening) demonstrates interest in your spouse as an individual.  It is this learning about one another through talking that keeps our love growing and carries us through many hard times.

Too wonderful” love is a faithful love that makes the marriage secure.  (Many mistakenly think money does this.)   Nothing will damage a marriage like unfaithfulness.  Never share your deepest thoughts and feelings with anyone of the opposite sex except your spouse.  Keep your mind and emotions faithful, and your body will follow.

Too wonderful” love is a committed love that makes the marriage last.  If there can be no commitment it is not love, just lust.  Husbands and wives should never have to fear that their marriage is in danger.  Our marriage should be viewed as a bond which only death can break.