What If…

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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.

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.

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

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.

Prayer: Getting Things Done

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Everyone has a To-Do list. For some of us, it is kept on a smart device or on sticky notes, while for others it is kept in the head. No matter where you house your list, you are very mindful of all the things you must get done. Let me ask you a question. Do you consider a prayer meeting as an opportunity to get things done? What is prayer all about to you?

Many times when we talk about prayer meetings we think of something that is mechanical and merely a religious routine. We pray because we are expected to and if we don’t we will feel bad. Yet, a prayer meeting is, in reality, an opportunity for believers to come to God with things that need to get done. Prayer meetings can be quite productive. Many people view them as passive. They should be viewed and conducted as anything but passive. John 14:13–14 says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Notice in the verse that we are told to ask so that things may be done. Prayer meetings are about getting things done—specifically getting God’s will done on earth.

At our church we are looking forward to three weeks of Cottage Prayer Meetings in preparation for Easter and Revival. As you prepare for Easter, take time to call for and participate in prayer meetings so that God’s will can get done in our churches and cities.

Why I Still Believe in Door-to-Door

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There are few methods of evangelism that I enjoy more than door-to-door evangelism! I love getting out, meeting new people, taking time to hear their story and then offering them hope in Jesus Christ. I have had people stop me in the local store remembering me stopping by their door and have an opportunity to continue the conversation. While there are some who would not use this method, I want to share with you some reasons that I still believe that door-to-door evangelism is a method we should employ in our churches today.

  1. Biblical Method—This ought to be the basis of any method that we employ in our church ministries. Throughout the book of Acts we find that the early church and its leaders were active in teaching the Gospel by two methods. They taught it publicly and from house to house. Acts 5:42 “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:20 “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,” I believe that this Biblical method is time honored and very practicable today!
  2. Measurable Method—We have been commissioned by Jesus to preach the Gospel. Acts 1:8 tells us that we are to be His witnesses in our own cities and throughout the whole world. We can witness on street corners, at parades and other public events, but none of those are measurable. They do not allow us to know that we have touched the whole city with the message of the Gospel. I believe in using all kinds of methods, but nothing allows us to measure progress like door-to-door.

    At Grace Baptist Church we measure our progress with a map system. We have a book of maps in a three ring binder. Members check out a map that with a highlighted street. They take the Outreach Cards that are in use at that time and go out in teams of two knocking on the doors. They turn in the map once they have completed it. The street is then marked as accomplish on our large progress map which is displayed off our lobby.

  3. Personal Method—Businesses covet word of mouth advertising. Personal endorsements of a product or business are extremely powerful. I believe this is one of the reasons that God told us to go and verbally share Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). He created us and knows that we respond to the witness or testimonials of others.
  4. Involving Method—Ephesians 4:12 tells us that every believer is a minister. Acts 1:8 tells us that we are all witnesses. I believe that every Christian should be actively involved in sharing Jesus Christ in their community. I believe the church should organize, equip and encourage believers to be obedient to the Great Commission. Door-to-door soulwinning provides opportunity for everyone to be involved.

    Recently I shared an outreach vision with our church call Target 45429. It is our goal to knock each door in this area three times before moving on to other parts of our city. There is a large opportunity for many to be involved. Furthermore, there are some who legitimately cannot get out there on the sidewalks for health reasons. I shared with them that we need people to come meet at church while soulwinning is in progress and pray that God will empower those out knocking doors. We also need babysitters so that younger families can be involved. These are additional and important ways for believers to be involved.

  5. Proven Method—I can think of people right now in our church that have be reached in that past several years by door-to-door. I was recently on a ministry trip with our teens and my wife had the opportunity to lead  lady to Jesus at the door. She has been attending her church and has even brought a guest. Maybe you can think of a story of someone in your church reached through door-to-door.

Don’t give up on this awesome method! Get a map of your city, divide it up and determine to knock on every door in your city. You will be amazed how God will bless your desire and faithfulness in the harvest.