He is the Antithesis

Untitled design.pngDeuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them:  for  the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Thoseare some very reassuring words! God wanted Israel to stop being fearful of their enemies and to  depend and act upon His promises. He wanted them to wholeheartedly trust that He would always be present, He would never let them down and that He would never abandon them. While people have the potential of forsaking us and letting us down, our God does not. God has not changed since He made this promise.  Do you remember that Jesus is always the same? Always. Always! ALWAYS!
What are you fearing today? Did you know that God knew  we would struggle with fear? As the loving Heavenly Father, He tells us how to deal with our fears.  He does not merely tell us to stop fearing, but promises that He is the antithesis to all our fears.
We fear:
  • To embrace the will of God for our life…God is the One Who is going to go with you.
  • That our employer, our national leaders, our health, our retirement may fail us…God has never and will never fail you.
  • That those we love or invest in might forsake us…God will never forsake you.
May God give you strength and courage as you trust in Him today!

What If…

Prayer.jpg

Everywhere we turn there are people who are in need of the Savior—Jesus Christ. For certain, there are people who have rejected Him completely. People like Stephen Hawkings who completely denied the existence of God. However, that is not the average condition of the people we pass day after day. In fact, atheists only make up about 3% +/-  of the American population. More than 96% of the unchurched have admitted that they would attend church if they were invited. The overwhelming majority of people are simply wandering aimlessly through life oblivious to the severity of their need. In reality, they are simply blind. They do not see their own sinfulness. They do not see the pending judgement that is only a breath away. They do not see their need for Jesus even though they will dutifully go to church to celebrate His birth and resurrection. They are blind!

2 Corinthians 4:4  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.

Christ commissioned us to be lights to those who walk in darkness around us. We live to illuminate Jesus for those whom the devil desires to keep in darkness. He does not want them to see their need. He does not want them to see that they are dangerously close to an eternity of fiery consequence for their sin against a holy God.

I find that many believers are very content to be assured of their own salvation from hell, but paralyzed in fear to witness of it to others. Even more, I find that believers can produce only a few names that they are regularly praying for to be saved. One thing is sure, those who neglect to pray for the lost are not likely to witness to the lost.

I have a WHAT IF question for you today. A question that came crashing into my mind and caused me to think. What if God only saved the people that are on your prayer list and for whom you are praying daily? How many people would be in heaven with you?

May God enlarge our vision for the lost all around us.

Experiencing Jesus Book Review

Experiencing Jesus.png

Recently, my wife and I were walking through our local Books and Co. in Beavercreek, Ohio. We were not really there for books as much as for the yogurt shop. We sat down to enjoy our personally concocted yogurt mixes among aisles and aisles of books. Looking up there was a grand stair case that led to another floor with aisles and aisles of more books. It seems that Barnes and Noble, Books and Co., the Kindle store, Half Price Books and many more offer endless reading options. Solomon stated of the making of books there would be no end. With so many options, it is vital that we choose reading material that will be good for us—good for us spiritually. Let me tell you about a book that I recently chose and would like to encourage you to do the same.

It was on social media that I first saw a post about a book being release entitled, Experiencing Jesus. The title grabbed my attention. It sounded refreshing and encouraging. I had a phone conversation with the author, John Van Gelderen and asked him to give me a quick summary. He did and my interest was further piqued. That day I bought the book and began to read it. I finished the book while on a couple of day retreat with my wife. Really, my heart was reminded, refreshed and reinvigorated about truth that I had heard preached by Bro. John when I was about 18. This book brought it all back to mind. Here are three reasons this book will be a life-changing read for you.

It is Biblical

The basis of many books are far from Biblical and have no aim of encouraging a walk with God. The basis of Experiencing Jesus is Galatians 2:20. This powerful verse says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” It is very easy to read over this verse and miss the much-needed truth to successfully live the Christian life as Christ intended. Each of the four chapters progressively work through this verse with clarity.

It is Simple

Many authors will take simple truth from scripture and make it complex. Experiencing Jesus is simple truth kept simple. I love the visual diagrams of scriptural concepts. I was inspired to see what happened to me the moment I received Christ by faith. The daily provision of Christ for a victorious life over sin is described in vivid detail. You need not be an intellectual to read this book. I certainly am not.

It is Needed

As a pastor, I am faced with the reality of defeated, discouraged believers. Sometimes I see it in the eyes of those listening. I can almost hear them whisper under their breath, “Sure Pastor! I tried to say no to sin this week and failed. Why try again?”  The book concludes with this statement, “Experiencing Jesus makes it possible for us to be regularly victorious.” Jesus did not save us to live a life regular defeat and occasional victory. Truly, there is Victory in Jesus. The Bible truth explained in Experiencing Jesus will help even the most defeated Christ follower discover this victory that Christ alone provides.

Before you buy and read that novel or history book you been looking at, pick up Experiencing Jesus and be encouraged in a way that will be life-changing.

Why Revival?

Flowers-500x250

Revival is a return to life. Right now, here in Ohio, the hints of spring are being seen in some of the flowers budding. Spring time is sort of like revival. After the cold, dark months of winter, there is a return of life. A refreshing. The Psalmist prayed for this to happen in Psalm 85:6 where it says, “Wilt thou not revive us again: That thy people may rejoice in thee?” We must first realize that revival, life again, in our spiritual lives is a work of God brought about by the earnest prayer of God’s people.

Why Revival Meetings?

Some may wonder why a pastor would plan a week of revival meetings. However, when one looks around at the wicked condition of our world and the ever lessening impact of the God’s people on the world in which we live, the question is fully answered. Revival meetings provide an opportunity for the Spirit of God to work in people of God through the Word of God to refresh their walks with God. Revival gives a concentrated exposure to God’s Word and preaching of it, which God promises to bless. One of the most important reasons a discerning pastor would schedule a revival is that it helps to brighten the witness of believers in the community. When God’s people are right with Him, they will be bright and burdened witnesses wherever they are.

Is Revival Possible?

Yes! Revival is not a dangling carrot that is never intended to be reached. God longs to revive His people. He awaits true humility and a realization of need. Isaiah 57:15 say, “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.” Many believers are like those of Laodicia who were rich, increase with goods and had need of nothing. Revival will never come to those who have this mindset.

Take This Step

Pause and pray right now. Give God permission to revive your heart. Ask Him to reveal anything in your life that dampens your sense of need for Him and any pride that hinders His grace from flowing into your life. He will meet you there!

In my next post, I will talk about how to prepare for Revival meetings.

Serving Christ in Your Church

Serving-500x250.jpg

Does God have a specific task and calling for every believer in the local church? Yes! Yes! Yes! Beginning with Christ and His disciples and throughout the New Testament, God teaches believers that we were saved to serve. While the world has always despised serving others and promoted being served, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. All those who follow Christ should be servants.

In many churches today, there is a dangerous philosophy that has crept in. It is the idea that the pastor and staff are paid to do all the serving. With this philosophy, soulwinning, cleaning, maintenance, vehicle repairs, lawn care, snow removal, hospitality, care for the hurting, widows and fatherless and much more is hired out to staff. The Bible says in Ephesian 4:11-12 that the very purpose of a pastor is to develop believers to serve in the church. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11–12) Yes, the pastor is to serve and one of the greatest ways he can serve believers is by developing them to serve. Certainly, a part of this development, is personally modeling a servant’s heart just like Jesus did for His disciples in John 13.

As a believer, don’t buy into this philosophy that you come to church to be served. You have a vital part in what God wants to do in your church and community. William McDonald aptly said, “Limitation of Christian service to a select class of men hinders the development of God’s people, stifles the cause of world evangelism, and stunts the growth of the church. The distinction between clergy and laity is unscriptural and perhaps the greatest single hindrance to the spread of the gospel.

I encourage you that if you do not already have a place to serve in your church with your God-given gift, this Sunday, ask your pastor how you can serve. Don’t wait to be asked. Be eager to serve.

 

A Follower’s Testimony

I was privileged to meet Jed Duarte, a third generation missionary to Brazil, for coffee as a get-to-know meeting. Very quickly, my heart was blessed by his testimony of absolute surrender. Our theme this year is I Will Follow. Here is a young man who made that decision and is having the time of his life. I wanted to share it, so we sat down for a quick interview. Jed and his family will be with us at Grace Baptist Church on September 30 for the final Sunday of Mission Weeks.