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!

Experiencing Jesus Book Review

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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?

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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.

Men’s Leadership Night Recap

I really enjoyed Men’s Leadership Night! I am so thankful for the group of godly men at Grace Baptist Church. I rejoice in their responsive hearts to be Biblical leaders.  There is so much to discourage Christian men today from accepting and exercising their God-given role as a loving, servant leader in the home. God is able to more than compensate every discouragement and challenge men face with His abundant grace.

What happens when God points out an area of our leadership that we need to correct? How do we go forward? Remember the promise of 1 John 1:9 given for believers,  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  If we have not accepted and exercised and leadership role that God has given, we have disobeyed Him. We must confess it to Him and seek His forgiveness. Furthermore, we should get it right with the people our disobedience affected—wife, children, ect. Receiving forgiveness for not taking the lead both from God and others will give the fresh start that is needed to begin doing the will of God. While it may be hard to admit, it will be worth it! God will give you grace in your humility.

Listen to Men’s Leadership Night Lesson

Books for Cultivating your Leadership:
I have read these over the past year and have been helped.

 

Following Feelings

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It is natural to follow feelings. You get too close to the burner on your stove and your feelings (senses) tell you that you had better move back quick. In our daily life, we often adjust our behavior based on our feelings. It is natural!

However, when we come to being committed followers of Jesus Christ, our feelings can really mess things up. Here’s what I mean. The Bible tells us to “Love your enemies…“. It also tells us to “...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…” Immediately, our feelings say, “No way!” Yet, God commands us to do these things. It is important to stop and look at the facts. The fact is, with every command, He will give the strength to obey it. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” If we live by feelings we will never obey God’s Word. So what is the answer?

The answer is to live by faith, not by feelings. We can obey by placing our faith in fact—the truth and trustworthiness of God’s Word. Living life by your feelings is to live life backwards. You will be fickle and frustrated. Living life by faith in God’s truth, will always keep you following Jesus. This is a life of safety, stability and spiritual strength.

Developing a Fertile Heart

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Your spiritual heart is the real you—your thinking, will and emotions. The parable of the sower in Mark 4:1-20 shows us that Jesus was very concerned that his followers would have a heart that was ready to receive the His truth. Today, Jesus is just as concerned that we would have that kind of heart. Consider some ways to develop a fertile heart for God’s truth.

  1. Honor God’s Word. One of the most obvious signs of a hard heart is a casual approach to God’s Word. It is seen in the take-it or leave-it kind of attitude. When we begin to convince ourselves that daily reading of the Bible is really not that important. Hearing your pastor preach God’s Word is good and needful for my children, but its not a big deal if I miss church or am distracted at church. Honor God’s Word by giving time and priority to both reading it and hearing it preached.
  2. Plan to Respond. Every time our Bibles are opened, God intends to guide us into all truth and we must respond to that truth.  We can respond positively or negatively. As a preacher, I am often burdened at the hesitance of believers to respond openly to God’s Word. We have, seemingly, bought into the world’s thinking that our relationship with God is completely a private issue, so we keep it to ourselves. The problem with that is, we begin to present ourselves as never having the need to progress in our relationships with God. We give the impression that we have nothing about which to be humble before God and others.  Let’s keep a fertile heart by planning to respond to the truth that God reveals to us.
  3. Choose to be Real. We all want to appear well. In church, we want to appear as spiritual. Sure, we would not admit or say that. If we are honest, this desire can be  nothing more than cleverly packaged pride. When you or I come to God’s Word, we must come realizing that we are broken messes in desperate need of God to fix us. Why? Because we are human. We have flesh. Let’s learn to admit it and simply be real so that we can have a fertile heart that is ready to be fixed.
  4. Eliminate all Distractions. God’s truth cannot have an affect on your heart if it does not have access to your heart. Much of the reason God’s Word does not have access to our hearts is the constant barrage of distractions. Life will give you 101 alternatives to being in your Bible or in church—lawn care, shopping, sales, events, extracurricular activities, sport schedules and fatigue etc.. Even when you go to church, there will be a host of distractions that would keep you from being in the Word. Go to church to hear God’s Word for yourself personally. If this will happen, distractions must be eliminated.

Proverbs 4:23  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.” Our hearts will only remain fertile as we choose to guard them from becoming hard. The propensity of every heart is to harden. Praise God, that with His help, it is possible for every heart to remain fertile—ready to hear, accept and apply God’s truth in our daily lives.


Listen to A Responsive Heart

Kindling Love and Commitment

Couple.jpgRelationships are an amazing gift from God! Beyond the relationship that God wants to have with us through Christ, the greatest relationship that can be had is found in marriage. Before we even get two chapters read in the Bible, we see marriage debuted. For a short while Adam and Eve knew perfect harmony with each other and their creator. In fact, their marriage was the only perfect marriage.

If we are honest, none of us have perfect marriages. There are times we argue, are unkind, exchange hurtful words, are unloving, show disrespect and the list could go on. Truly, every marriage that will be harmonious takes effort, commitment and an ever growing relationship with Jesus Christ by both husband and wife.  Marriage is a relationship to be kindled each day for sure. Consider kindling your marriage like this:

  1. Practice Love and Respect. God instructs husbands in Ephesians 5 to love their wives unconditionally. Regardless of the behavior the wife, the husband is to show love. The practical standard of this is the husband loving his wife as much as he loves himself. Guys, kindle your marriage by truly loving your wife even on her worst day. Wives, on the other hand, are told to respect their husbands. Often wives give respect based behavior. However, God tells wives to respect her husband no matter what. Respect is demonstrated when a wife encourages and does not belittle.  One man said, “A wife that is loved will grow in loveliness and a husband that is respected will become more respectable.”
  2. Practice Clearing the Air. When troubles and conflict do arise, be sure to settle them quickly. In all cases, never go to bed angry. The Bible warns us about letting the sun go down upon our wrath. Every night before you fall asleep, kindle your marriage by making certain nothing is unsettled.
  3. Practice Investing in your Marriage. There are many things that will drain a marriage of harmony and closeness. Even good things can be the culprit. Reading books on marriage, maintaining time alone, planning dates and including times to get away to focus on your marriage are all important ways to invest. One of the greatest reasons we Grace Baptist Church host a Couples Retreat is to provide a way for couples to invest in their marriages. Sitting under Biblical instruction for marriages will always be a worthwhile investment.

Will you plan to kindle your marriage today? Will you plan to do something in this week as an investment in your marriage?

 


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