Why? Why? Why?

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In the days following a weekend of horrible acts of murder in El Paso, Texas and my own city of Dayton, Ohio, the common question everywhere is “Why?” “What is the motive?” “Why did the two murderers do what they did?” “What are the specifics?”

While most of the specifics will eventually come out in the investigations as the fantastic men and women in our law enforcement communities wade through the evidence, likely there will be some questions that still remain. Questions like: “How could they let themselves do this?” “Why would someone kill his own sister?”

To get some answers, consider the very first murder that was ever recorded for us in human history. We find the story in Genesis chapter four. Remember, this is before there were fatherless homes, a culture of glorifying violence in video games and movies, guns or weapons of any kind. Before this murderous act, a murder had never been witnessed. We find two brothers named Cain and Abel. Abel had a heart to obey God and worship Him by obeying God’s instructions. Cain went through the motions of worshipping God but did not listen to God’s instructions.  Cain’s actions revealed a heart that had rejected the authority of God in his life. His actions were rebellious toward God because his heart was rebellions toward God.

Cain did not appreciate God’s blessing on Abel’s obedience, and so in jealousy, he murdered his brother. Genesis 4:8 tells us, “And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”

Remember, Cain had never seen a murder before. Where did that idea come from? In order to understand, we must go back one chapter to read about how sin entered into the world. Adam and Eve were created by God and placed into the Garden of Eden. They lived in a world that we have never experienced, a completely perfect world. They enjoyed daily interaction and conversation with God, their Creator. God had created them for relationship. He did not force a relationship but gave them a free will to choose to fellowship with Him. God gave ONE instruction to them that they needed to obey. In Genesis 3, Eve and Adam chose to disobey, and by that single act of disobedience, sin entered into the world. Romans 5:12 comments on this, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” This meant that the relationship between the holy God and man would now be severed and separated.

There would be many consequences of this separation from God. Sin of every kind imaginable would now be thought of in the human heart and carried out in actions. Sin of any kind always has its root in the heart. Jesus talked about this in Mark 7:21–23,  “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness [unrestrained sinful behavior], an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” 

That is quite a list that Jesus gives us, and it is so true. So as we look at the murders that have taken place in these two cities and ask why, let us remember that it is the sinfulness of man’s heart that makes him capable of doing such wicked things. As long as man lives in rebellion against his Creator, sins like this and more will continue to be committed.

There is HOPE! Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile us (mankind) to our Creator. John 3:16–17 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Every man and woman alive needs to be saved from their sin and the consequences of it. The only hope of changing our actions is dealing with the problem of the heart. It is sinful and needs to be reconciled to God. Have you been reconciled to God? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? You can today!

Yes! I want to know more!—Salvation Explained

 

Related message preached on Sunday, August 11, 2019

Being the Best

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Our God is an excellent God! The Bible tells us that His work is perfect. When you pause to meditate on His excellence, it is not hard to conclude that the service that we give back to Him ought to be excellent as well.

Stop and think about the ministry that you have. Maybe you are a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, an usher, a janitor, a coach, a director, a choir member, a nursery helper or a sound tech. Regardless of your ministry for Christ, one thing is for certain is that He deserves our best. After all that Jesus has done for us, He deserves excellent service.

Best does not happen on accident. If you think of a co-worker that is the very best in their profession, you know they had to work very hard to get there. Sadly, some Christians will give 110% in service to their earthly employer and then give 65% in service to their heavenly Master—Jesus Christ. Every believer ought to desire to serve Jesus in the best way possible. Here are several thoughts that might encourage us in being our best as we work for Jesus.

  1. Our Attitude in the Work
    Romans 1:1 “PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,”  Before anything else, Paul remembered that He was a servant of Jesus Christ. If we give Jesus our best, we must remember we are His servants. We must remember to serve for His glory and not our own. The best servants are humble and willing to be instructed without taking offense. They are cooperative with other servants and avoid a critical spirit. They are willing to take initiative even when it is not their job. They are Christ-ward remembering they serve Jesus and by serving Him they serve others. They are eager to serve not waiting to be coaxed or prodded. They have a sort of wide-eyed intensity about their service to Jesus.
  2. Our Attention in the Work
    If we have the attitude of a servant, it will impact the attention we give to the work Jesus has given us to do. It will not be half-hearted but we will be fully engaged. One person said, “Mediocrity is the enemy of excellence.” This is so true! What sets Chick-Fil-A apart from so many other quickness’s service restaurants is their determination to “Be America’s best quick-service restaurant.” We love their product, but the process behind it where it all starts. It an excellent process. From how the employees talk and dress to how the food is prepared and served, the process is excellent! From the moment you walk in the door you have a sense that every employee exists to serve you and it shows in the attention they give to their work. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  We must give our attention to give Jesus excellent service.
  3. Our Awareness in the Work
    We must remember, if we plan to serve Jesus with all our focus and attention, the devil will plan to fight us. Ephesians 6:12–13 instructs us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Satan does not fight the mediocre servants, they are no threat to him. He will fight against those that strive to be the very best servants for Jesus. Those that engage in the work of the LORD. One of the ways that satan fights us is by tempting us to get focused on the problems we will face as we serve rather than staying focused on the Problem Solver. If we focus on people and problems, we will become discouraged in the work. Sometimes people will say unkind things. They may do something or make decisions that are disappointing. However, if our eyes are on Jesus, we will be able to continue to serve with excellence.

Regardless of where you serve Jesus, recommit to giving Him the best service you can give. Don’t forget to yield yourself daily to His Spirit so that you will be empowered in your service.

Don’t Be Distracted by Objections

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Many times we are hesitant to share the Gospel because we fear the objections that people put up. Our church is going through “Take It Personally,” and we discussed seven common objections to the Gospel. These are ideas that the lost often raise when we are sharing the truth of the Gospel with them. We should not allow objections to distract us from the central message of the Gospel. However, we must be ready to answer them.

First, let’s be sure to use Scripture. Our words are weak, but God’s Word is like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. God promises that His Word will accomplish its purpose. We must use it! Secondly, let us always remember that our goal must always be to bring the conversation back to the Gospel. Answer every objection with Bible truth and then continue to share the Gospel.

  1. I have always been a Christian.
    • No one is born a Christian. The Bible teaches we are born sinners.
    • Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.
    • John 1:12 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:
  2. I’ve asked God to forgive me many times.
    • It is a prayer of faith, believing in Christ’s ability and willingness to save, and is a one-time decision.
    • Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
    • John 1:12 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:
  3. This is too simple. I need to do something to earn it.
    • If you could earn it, it would not be a gift.
    • Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  4. I’m good enough. I am not a very bad sinner.
    • By comparison to others we might look good but, God sees our lives differently.
    • Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
  5. Doesn’t death end everything? How do we know there is a real Heaven and Hell?
    • The Bible clearly teaches the reality of Heaven and Hell.
    • Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
    • Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
    • Luke 16—Rich man and Lazarus
  6. I don’t want to give up my friends and lifestyle.
    • There is nothing more valuable than an eternal soul. When you trust Christ as your Savior, He will give you the grace to desire a new life and be able to live a new life.
    • Mark 8:36–37 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
  7. I think that as long as I’m sincere in what I believe, that’s all that matters.
    • Sincerity is not what grants forgiveness or eternal life, rather a relationship with Christ.
    • Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death.
    • John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
    • John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    • Acts 4:12  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
    • 1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

*List of objections taken from Take It Personally available from strivingtogether.com

Why I Attend Outreach Conference

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The work of the ministry calls for frequent sharpening.  One of the ways I sharpen myself each year is by attending the Outreach Conference at Faith Baptist Church in Avon, Indiana. Here are some reasons I make this conference a priority.

  1. Solid Preaching—As pastors, we need to hear preaching. I have enjoyed hearing men like R.B. Oullette, Mark Monte, Kurt Skelly, Doug Jackson and Cary Schmidt. God has used these men to challenge me to keep growing spiritually.
  2. Meaningful Fellowship—I enjoy reconnecting with pastors that I don’t get to see throughout the year. Whether it is sharing ideas or just talking about the ministry, I am encouraged by the fellowship we have together.
  3. Genuine Motivation—Sometimes you get the sense that conferences are hosted in order to show off rather than to give sincere help. This conference is born out a genuine desire to just be a blessing. I have observed this over and over again.
  4. Encouragement for My Wife—Some conferences focus so much on the pastor that they forget the pastor’s wife. Every year my wife has been encouraged and leaves refreshed and charged.
  5. Helpful Workshops—Practical workshops give an opportunity for pastors and ministry leaders to sharpen themselves on multiple subjects. The workshops are about a half hour in length so that you can get more information in a short amount of time. No doubt you will leave with useful material.

Would you take the time to participate in the Outreach Conference March 6-7, 2017?  You will be glad you did!

Register today!

Be Friendly

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We all want solid friendships. Research shows the quality of life increases according to the quality of our friendships. So, friendship really is important to our everyday living. The Bible helps us see that God created us to be relational. We were created for relationship with Him first and then with others. By the way, that order is super important! A relationship with God absolutely increases the quality of your relationships with others.

Understanding these things, many are left wondering why friendship and quality relationship elude them. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, gave us the proverb that answers this question.

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly:
And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

If we want friendship, we then have to be friendly. This may not come naturally for you. In fact, you may really struggle with stepping out and being friendly. Maybe you freeze up and just don’t know what to say. Don’t give up! With intentional effort, you will find that you can show yourself friendly. I am going to pass along a guide for being friendly in conversation. It is not original with me. It comes from a pastor, whom I respect, by the name of Carl Herbster.

“How to be Friendly and Carry a Conversation”

F: family (husband,wife,kids)

R: roles (job,positions)

I: interests (hobbies,likes)

E: education(school,training)

N: neighborhood (where live)

D: denomination (church)

S: salvation (Christ)

Let’s seek to be friendly wherever we are and discover just how fun it is.

 

Our Purpose

 

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This year, at Grace Baptist Church, we are our learning our purpose and priorities. More than anything, we want to accomplish the purpose that Christ has given us to accomplish. In Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” This is a huge, monumental undertaking! However, as one man said, “Through God’s power, our faithfulness is always possible.” We have a purpose and we must faithfully engage in that purpose.

This past Vision Sunday, I was excited to reveal our public church purpose statement. Our purpose is to engage in the complete fulfillment of the Great Commission of Christ through the power of the Spirit to the glory of God. 

During this first quarter of the year, I am preaching and teaching our priorities—how we will accomplish our purpose. I believe that accomplishing such a God-sized purpose requires that we plan and prioritize. You can listen to the message at our website, facebook or podcast.