Following Christ in the Last Day

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Deadlines bring about a certain amount of focus and yes, panic. If you are a procrastinator, you have experienced the panic of deadlines. Perhaps it is a report or presentation that was due at your job. Maybe a research paper for that college class. Regardless, you can identify with the feeling experienced at deadlines.

The events of the past weeks in America have cause many believers to be reminded once again that we are in the last days. The Bible tells us about the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1-4.

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 

Current events are a vivid display of many of these descriptions. We see disobedience and lawlessness. There is ungratefulness and a care less attitutde about life. Dishonesty and slander are a norm. Self-contol is not practiced and we see a rise in uncivilized behavior. Note the word ‘fierce’ in verse three. It literally means untamed and is the idea of uncivilized. The list goes on, but what we are seeing in our county is what the Bible told us would happen in the last days. I am not saying “All hope is lost.” There is always hope in turning to Jesus Christ!

With all that said, I believe that followers of Christ must be very purposeful in these day. I want to share three practical ways the last days should affect our living.

  1. We need to Increase our Gathering Together (25)
    It is popular to attend church gatherings once a week. In fact, over the last decade or so, the number of people who have quit attending church as risen by 30% which translates into 38 million people. That is the cultural trend. Yet God told us in Hebrews 10:25 that our gatherings should increase as we see the day approaching. Church is not something to be skipping out on in the day that we live. You need it and the rest of the church needs you there as well. Don’t look at gathering with other believers as a burden, it is one of the ways God designed for your burdens to be lifted. I cannot be more emphatic about this, you need to gather with believers whenever the gathering is happening. It is for your good and for the good of others.
  2. We need to Intensify our Focus on our Mission
    When you are running a race, as you get down to the end, there is an intensity that builds. Your focus is not on those behind you or around you, but on the finish line. We are getting down to the end and followers of Jesus ought to have an intensified focus. We need to stop being distracted by temporal endeavors or petty issue and get focused. Bitterness that been held onto for years must be confessed and forsaken. Apathy about the lost must be turned to passion. Priorities need to be adjusted and aligned with Christ’s purpose for putting us here at this time and in this country. Christ mission was “…to seek and to save that which was lost.” Our mission statement ought to be Matthew 28:19-20 and every activity of our life ought to be focused on accomplishing it someway.
  3. We need to Increase our Encouragement of Others (24)
    Our world is hurting. Many followers of Christ are hurting. Don’t be a critic that adds to the burdens of others. Be an encourager that lifts burdens and points people to the  Burden Bearer—Jesus Christ. Learn to pray with others, not just tell them you will pray for them. Use your social media to encourage with God’s Word and testimony of His goodness and mercy. Remember that Jesus often had His schedule disrupted in order to meet needs. If you will encourage others, you will have to be fine with being flexible. You will have to be ready to sacrifice what you were going to do in order to encourage a hurting heart.

Which of these areas do you need to increase and intensify in your life as you follow Christ? May God give you grace and strength to follow Christ in these last days.

Listen to the sermon Following Christ in the Last Days

Following Christ in the Last Days Keynote

Love and Hate

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All around us we see hate rising. Hate is not a new thing. Since the fall of man there has been hate. Do you remember Cain and how his hate toward his brother Abel led him to commit murder? Hate is the result of many other sins like envy, pride, greed, covetousness and prejudice. It is rampant in our society!

Jesus taught His followers to be different. He encouraged them to show love no matter if they were shown love. Luke 6:32 says, “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.” Society around shows hate to those who hate them and love to those who love them. The followers of Jesus are to love and keep on loving. People around you toward are thirsty for genuine love. Refresh someone today with a loving spirit just like Jesus.

What Next?

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I am sure you are like me and shaking your head as you watch the news. There seems to be a spirit of lawlessness rising in our country. I do not claim to know all the details of the Dallas shooting, however I do want to just give a couple of thoughts that followers of Christ ought to practice in these days.

  1. Pray for Americans to Turn to Jesus
    Those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ will be peacemakers. Jesus taught His disciples to seek peace. Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” One cannot be a peacemaker without possessing the Peacemaker Himself. Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Let’s pray for a great awakening in America to the person of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers to all.
  2. Respect Authority
    It is always right to obey the authorities that are in place over you. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Followers of Jesus ought to be bold examples of respecting police officers. If you get pull over, do what he or she says. Be submissive and if you were doing wrong (like speeding), be humble enough to admit it.
  3. Appreciate Local Law Enforcement
    Everyday the police officers in your city show up to roll call and wonder quietly if their shift will go without a violent situation or a socially charged attention getting incident. They get into their cruisers wondering if they will return to their homes safely. The vast majority of officers simply want to keep their communities safe, no matter the races represented. They wear a uniform and a badge, but behind it is a heart that needs encouraged and appreciated. Find a way to appreciate your local police  officers.

My heart hurts for what I see in my country. The Bible tells us that in the last times things would get worse and worse. We are experiencing that on many levels! Let’s  be sure to shine for Jesus brighter than ever in everything we do.

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

If He Can There, I Can Here!

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Most of us quake in fear when we think of personally spreading the Gospel in the Muslim world. Preaching the Gospel in most areas of the Middle East legitimately requires that a man would be willing to lay down his life for Jesus Christ.  These are precisely the reasons why the autobiography of Edgar Feghaly, Forward in the Face of Fear, will grip your attention. As I read it, I was encouraged by the testimony of a man who chose to walk by faith and not by sight. I was inspired by the countless examples of how God had preserved the life of His servant. Here are five reasons why this book would be a great encouragement to you.

  1. It is Current—We hear the great missionary stories of the past. They are inspiring but, in our minds they are often relegated as possible in the past, not in the present. Chapter after chapter is filled powerful accounts of God doing the impossible during the lifetime of my generation and last. As a young man, that just encourages me!
  2. It is Relevant—With all the focus on the turmoil in the Middle East, this book will be one you don’t want to put down. While reading of the power of God, you will also learn enlightening history describing the beginning of conflict in that region. You will gain a greater understanding of the unrest we see there today. Beyond that, you will see that the unrest has not stopped the Gospel from advancing or Christ’s church being built.
  3. It is Simple—When I hear of the ways God used great men of the past, sometimes I am tempted to think that God used them because they were special. While that is not true, it is easy to slip into that thinking. Edgar Feghaly is just a man who simply decided to follow Jesus early in life and practiced simple faith in God’s extraordinary power. “Although I knew at a young age that God had called me to serve Him, the night I walked the aisle at the Baptist church to surrender to His will I had no idea what a life of service would involve. I just knew I wanted to tell everyone I met about the One who had changed my heart and my family. And soon, God blessed me with opportunities to do just that.”
  4. It is Challenging—You will be challenged by Mr. Feghaly’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Multiple times his obedience to the Spirit kept him from danger or enabled him to win a soul to Christ. You will be challenged by his contentment to serve God without complaint. After all, there are easier places to preach Christ than Lebanon!
    “I am ever grateful to the Lord who called me to minister and enabled me to serve Him in Lebanon. He truly provided spiritually, emotionally, and physically for my family’s every need.”
  5. It is Applicable—In America we have many excuses for not telling everyone we meet about the One that has changed our hearts. When you read of the circumstances in which Mr. Feghaly preached the Gospel, every excuse will pale in comparison. We have not been touched by unending war on our home soil. We have not faced persecution or even extreme opposition of our faith. Yet in the midst of a hostile, war-torn region, the Gospel went forward. I found myself thinking, “If he can do it there, I can do it here!”

Forward in the Face of Fear will be release on April 11, 2016. You can purchase your print or digital copy at Striving Together Publications.

Why Vision Sunday

 

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With each new year comes a fresh opportunity to make deliberate plans for spiritual growth. I think we can all agree that we have plenty of areas in which we need to become more like Jesus Christ. The simple thing to do would be to enter 2016 and continue to live in the moment and take the path of least resistance. In the moment it is so easy to be content with having taken the first step of receiving Christ but not actively living for Christ. It is easy to choose something good in place of taking time with Jesus. It is easy to choose to be entertained rather than engaging spiritually with our families. It is my prayer that 2016 would be radically different for each of us. On Vision Sunday I will be preaching and conveying the vision that God has given me for our church. I believe that it will be life-changing for you as you allow God to work freely in your life. You may ask, “Why do I need to attend every service on Vision Sunday?” Here is my three-fold answer.

  1. Recognition of Need—If you do not think you need to grow this year in your relationship with Jesus, then Vision Sunday will just be another Sunday exercise. Vision Sunday by design  will give us a fresh perspective on our own personal areas of need. Once those areas have been identified they can be met with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Just remember, when we come to God humbly expressing need, He promises us His grace. His grace is the strength and enablement we desperately need. James 4:6 “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” What could be more exciting than anticipating God meeting your specific spiritual needs with His grace this year.
  2. Preparation for Growth—When preparing for a project you need the right tools. In construction I learned how important the right tool was to effectively accomplishing a task. Jesus has commanded us in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” You and I need the right tools to see growth in our lives. On Vision Sunday during the evening service I will be making tools available that will help you take your relationship with Jesus to the next level.
  3. Anticipation of Opportunities—I believe that God has given some incredible opportunities for our church in the coming year. During the evening service of Vision Sunday we will dream together and I will share the vision about events and projects that we will anticipate and accomplish by faith. Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him…” I don’t want to just enter 2016 riding on the glorious past. I do not believe that would please God. I want us to by faith embrace the opportunities of 2016 and see our God do the impossible. Will you join me? Luke 17:5 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” Will you like the disciples ask God to increase your faith?

I look forward to an inspirational day together on Vision Sunday and the best part of it will be being together with God’s people.

Thoughts from our Project

Untitled design-4This past Monday, our church was able begin phase one of our Auditorium Enhancement project. For over a year we have been praying about and raising funds. It is so exciting to see a fresh, new look taking shape. I would like to praise the Lord in several specific ways in regards to this project.

  1. Jesus is the Motivation
    It may seem obvious, but I want to praise the Lord that Jesus is the reason and the motivation behind this project. Jesus is the reason we exist as a church, He is the one whom we serve and the one whom we desire to magnify in every venture we undertake.
  2. Believers with a Heart for God
    Praise the Lord for believers who have had a heart for God and a willingness to sacrifice, giving of their time and finances. I am thankful for those who have prayed. I am grateful for the spirit of unity that the Holy Spirit has given to God’s people.
  3. Wisdom from God
    Many have co-labored on this project to this point with a heart to be guided by God’s wisdom. Praise God for wisdom for each step of the way! God’s wisdom allows all of us to carry out His will and to exercise our gifts in a skillful manner.

May God continue to guide and use Grace Baptist Church to impact Kettering and our world for Jesus Christ.