Something Came Up…

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We have all gotten that message before. It happens sometimes in the moments before a plan to get together. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up. I will not be able to meet you.” My wife and I recently had one of those as we were picking up a purchase from Facebook Marketplace. We were at the meeting place at the time agreed, but five, then ten minutes had passed, and we got the message. “I’m sorry I can’t meet you. Something came up.” 

Whether it is a meeting like that, a dinner engagement or appointment to work on a project, this message brings up a variety of questions in our minds. Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

You are not the only one that gets that message. Did you know that God gets that message from His children all the time? In fact, He gets it weekly. “I am so, so sorry, but something came up, God. I will not be able to make it to church today.” I wonder what questions come up in God’s mind when He gets that message from us? Is everything alright? Was there an emergency? How can I help? What could have “come up” that was more important than what we had planned? Could what came up have been dealt with later? 

Hebrews 10:23–25 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Here in this verse, God commanded us to assemble together. However, He wants us to assemble out of love, not duty. Yet the growing trend among His children today is that assembling with their church once a week or even once a month is good enough. Many of God’s children have become all too comfortable messaging God, “I am so, so sorry God, but something came up.” Certainly there are emergencies, health issues and “ox in the ditch” scenarios, but many things could be, and ought be, put aside so that we, as children of God, can assemble together. 

Before you press send on that message to God this Sunday, Wednesday or other time when your church family is assembling together, ask yourself, “What is more important than obeying God?“ He told me to assemble with my fellow believers. He told me to do so all the more as we get closer to Christ’s return. If I choose to do something else when I my church family is assembling, can I expect the blessing of God on what I am doing? Am I pleasing my Heavenly Father by not assembling with my church family?

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

Let’s sow obedience and reap a blessing. Let’s be committed to assemble with our church family every time the doors are open.

Making Time For Revival

One of the highlights of the year for me is revival meetings. There is something very special about gathering together with other believers to sing, pray, be challenged by God‘s Word through preaching and to seek God for personal and corporate revival. I have found that not all believers see the need nor will take the time to engage in revival meetings.

Some wonder, “Why a revival meeting?” Don’t we already have enough to do in life? True! There is a lot on our calendars. We are busy. Home, work, sports, friends all have space on our calendars and then there are our devices that deceptively suck hours of our time out of our days. Some will say in frustration and excuse, “I just don’t have any time this week for revival, Pastor!” May I have a moment to challenge your thinking.

Ephesians 5:16 tells us “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.” Paul was encouraging believers, who lived in days that were against God, to buy back time from being wasted on temporal pursuits and invest it in what was truly, eternally important. More important than anything else in our lives, is our walk with God and that walk being revived (reset or refreshed…whatever the need). Who you are with God is more important than who you are with your family, your coworkers and your friends. Your walk with God is more important than any program, than any project or pursuit. When we walk with God as we ought, we are the best spouse, the best employee, the best friend and the best child. Everything flows from my walk with God. Perhaps that is why Solomon challenged his son to “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.“ (Proverbs 4:23)

Make the time by setting aside things that are not as eternally important as your walk with God. If a few Facebook friends don’t get a like from you, will that really matter in eternity? If you miss a ball game, your favorite TV show or your child misses a sport practice, will it matter in eternity? If you miss some sleep in order to gather with other believers to be under the preaching of the Word, will you regret that in eternity?

No one has time, we all have to make time for what is truly important. Our walk with God and the preaching of God’s Word for revival is truly important.

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.

Serving Christ in Your Church

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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.

 

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