Pastor’s Corner

“CHURCH LIKE IT USED TO BE” 

“On What Do You Base That”

“O, send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles.” Psalms 43:3

Holy wars; they seem to have been fought for centuries of time, but surprisingly they are generally fought in the midst of those who say they are trying to follow God’s teaching rather than against those who oppose it. Disagreements with denominations, dispensations, dress, duty, departure, and definition have caused more division and dispositions among the so-called believers than the opposition of all who are antagonistic toward the Gospel.   At the center of this contention is an adversary that divides, dilutes, and destroys the truth in the thoughts and hearts of those who would seek after God.  Who is right; many have argued and cried in their desperate attempts to find the truth.  God wants you to know the truth about Himself.  It can only be found in the place that He has recorded and preserved for us; in His Holy Word.  It is only in the Word of God that we can learn about God and find our way to Him as He reveals His way, truth, and life through His Son.  God reveals Himself in His Word and the psalmist prayer is the same one we should repeat to God; send Your light and truth and guide me.

“What A Comparison”

“My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.  But Thou, O Lord, shall endure forever, and Thy remembrance unto all generations.” Psalms 102:11-12

This psalm is a reminder of the reality of life and it’s short little appearance of time compared with the eternal God of Heaven.  James reminded that our life is only a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away.  The psalmist is presenting a simple comparison between man and God; he testifies that man is weak, needy, without substance, and only a vapor in the wind.  Then he exclaims that God is everything that man is not; He is all powerful, mighty, and everlasting.  His power and provision has given man the opportunity to become all that we are not through His grace and the glory He presented to man in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Man believes himself to be his own god, but the psalmist reminds us of how unlike God we really are.  Our only hope is found in His eternal love and wondrous provision of redemption in Jesus Christ.  Only He can make a difference and a change in the heart of man; then by the power of the Holy Spirit we are made more in the likeness and image of Almighty God.  He is everything we are not and provides everything we need to be acceptable to Him.

“Sunday Afternoon”

“Use hospitality one to another without grudging.  As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” I Peter 4:9-10

Sunday afternoon is spent much differently today than it was when I was growing up.  People today rush home to watch some sporting event, catch up on some unfinished project, or jump into the covers for an afternoon nap.  However, Sunday afternoons in my childhood and early adulthood were spent in building friendships around a room full of people who shared fried chicken or roast beef together.  The host would not even give a consideration to turning the television on; this was time for friendship and hospitality, a time to build lives together.  We have lost something over the years; in our quest for entertainment we have bonded with sport stars and entertainers that we will never meet and have neglected those whom we see daily or weekly.  Sadly, I stand in my place at the head of the line of missed opportunity to visit and build relationships around the table of hospitality.  The early church helped each other grow in the  faith as they opened their hearts and the doors of their homes to others to share Christ and His love toward each other.  They built lives, friendships, and churches around the table of fellowship.

“Friends Or Friendless”

“A man who hath friends must show himself friendly; and there is a friend who sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

A story related by a Pastor friend:  Early in our ministry, I officiated at the funeral of a woman who was 105 years old.  I anticipated the funeral home chapel would be filled with family, friends, and others who had known her through the years; however, to my surprise only five people attended besides the funeral director and me.  It really broke my heart to see that after a century of life only five people showed up to pay their respects.  The facts were that she had outlived her husband, children, siblings, and friends.  Her children died unmarried and without children which left her the last living member of her immediate family.  She had also spent the last twenty-five years of her life in a care facility and had only the staff that cared for her to show any affection; they were the five attendees at the service.  It still caused me to think about those who stand with us in life and I wondered about those who will stand for us at death.  You know; people who are not required to be there, but have dropped everything to be there because they are your friend; six who would be honored to carry your body to the grave because they love you.  Are you nurturing those friendships today?

 “Why Didn’t They Know?”

“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and he vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us along the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Luke 24:31-32

I have read this account of the two who journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus following the crucifixion of Jesus many times.  It is an exciting account of how Jesus revealed Himself to His followers after the Resurrection.  He could have met and preached to the multitudes for a greater impact, but He chose to reveal Himself to individuals instead.  It is a remarkable assurance that He is not only interested in reaching people, but that He has come to meet each personally and privately as they seek Him.  I always leave this passage with a couple of questions, however.  Why did these two not recognize Jesus?  Mary did not recognize Him following His resurrection, but when He spoke she immediately knew it was the Lord, but these two did not recognize Him or His voice.  Why did Jesus not reveal Himself sooner, or did He?  In their grief they did not know that He was with them each step, but He knew them; it was only after He sat down as an invited guest at their table of fellowship did they know Him.  Only then were they ready to be a witness for Him.

“It Costs More Some Places”

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Many first century Christians gave their life for their testimony of Jesus Christ.  We have read of Stephen and James the son of Zebedee, and of Paul, even Thomas the doubter gave his life for his testimony and preaching of Jesus Christ.  Do you realize that at this very moment men and women all around the world are giving their lives as they are faced with a choice to denounce Jesus Christ or be killed?  Without hesitation they choose Christ, knowing their decision means certain death for them and their family.  At this writing, there is a young pastor in Iran awaiting death for his unmovable testimony concerning Jesus Christ.  Another pastor in India has lost his life this week for refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as Savior.  Countless souls in Africa, Asia, and Europe stand willing to give their lives for the sake of Jesus; many thousands have already done so.  In America we have unequaled freedom to serve Christ, attend church, and witness for Him and struggle to find time to give to God!

“Thinking Ahead”

“Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:19

Put a series of letters behind a person’s name or call them an expert and often that will be the credentials that make others believe they are an expert.  The expertise that is recognized by God is not what we say we know about His Word, but by the value we place on it and how it is observed.  A humble or non-educated person with little or no formal education that follows the Word of God faithfully may be held in higher regard than his counterpart that has many degrees from colleges of higher learning, but doubts the validity of God or His Word.  Jesus was opposed everywhere He went by those students of higher learning.  The Scribes and the Pharisees were supposedly the experts of the Law and the Prophets, yet they interpreted God’s Word for their own selfish purposes.  According to the Words of our Lord Jesus in our text, those who manipulate God’s Word and try to undermine or alter it will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whosoever believes it by faith and lives it will be great!

“Saved, Sealed, Settled And Satisfied”

“The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”  Psalms 121:5,8

Throughout the entire Bible, we are reminded of the security God has provided for His children.  Moses spoke of it, David spoke of it, and Peter, John and Paul each gave testimony and recorded it by direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit as they penned down the Word of God.  Jesus not only spoke of it to His disciples, but He demonstrated it at Calvary, sealed it when He sent the Holy Spirit, and settled it when He sat down on the right hand of His Father.  Jesus’ prayer of intercession recorded in John 17 specifically asks that those who would believe on Him would be kept by His Father.  Jude 24 and 25 reminds:  “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.”  This is one of the greatest and most assuring truths of doctrine in all the Word of God.  It reminds us that nothing can separate or take us away from the love of our Heavenly Father by our Lord Jesus Christ and we are kept by His love.

“Will His Coming Take You Away?”

“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  Matthew 24:3

Jesus had not left His disciples and they were already asking what the sign of His return was going to be.  It is a point of interest for the child of God; it brings worry, excitement, fear, and concern.  Jesus’ Word to His disciples, however, was when you see the signs it is not time to worry, it is time to lift up your head and look for His coming.  Everyday some kind of news from the Middle East is in the paper or the television news. It is truly exciting to see the prophecies we have read about being fulfilled before our very eyes.  If you have read from the Word of God about the events that are before us you should not be surprised or worried; you should find reason to rejoice because God has privileged this generation to behold the signs of the time before His return. When I was in junior high and high school one of my teachers required us to bring in current events one day of every week. What a great and exciting time it is to study current events and compare them to ancient writings God has recorded in His Holy Word.  Are you ready to meet Him?

“The Chastening Of The Lord”

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27) 

This verse is in the midst of a conversation between God and Jeremiah as the prophet prayed before God concerning the condition of his people.  It was going to be a very difficult time for the land of Judah; they had rebelled against God for generations and He is going to chasten them for their disobedience and idolatry.  He has continued to love them, send His Word through the prophets, and His people have continued to ignore Him.  King Zedekiah has rebelled against God and against the King of Babylon and he will pay the price and bring the chastening hand of God in the anger of his enemy upon his own people.  Could God have held back the advancement of the opposing army?  He promised from the day they entered into this land of promise that if they would trust Him and obey His Word, He would protect them and preserve them. Someone might ask, could not God have done something about the suffering His people were about to endure?  The answer is He had already done something; their suffering was a direct result of their sin.  Repentance and faith in God would have defeated their sin and their enemy.

“We Too Make The Choice”

“Thy testimonies are wonderful; therefore doth my soul keep them.” (Psalms 119:129) 

The kings of Israel and Judah are listed from King Saul to King Zedekiah; they are characterized by those who did evil before God and those who did right in the sight of God.  What made the difference from one king to another?  The answer is found in how they gave consideration to the Word of God.  King David, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah each have the testimony that they did right in the sight of God.  What made the difference?  The answer is found in our text; they found wonder in the Word of God.   King David had a regular time of communication in God’s presence; he was enlightened and empowered to follow God’s precepts from his time with his Heavenly Father.  King Hezekiah and his great- grandson, King Josiah, did not begin with that relationship nor did they have a father that taught them in the ways of God.  They heard the Word of God and it changed them to the point of repentance and dedication before God.  They bowed in wonder to His Holy Word and they both humbled themselves in obedience to God’s precepts; they made a covenant before the Lord to walk after Him and keep His commandments.  (II Chronicles 29-34).

“Can You Recognize The Lord?”

“And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our hearts burn within us, while He talked with us along the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures?”  (Luke 24:31-32)

I have read the account of the two who journeyed from Jerusalem to Emmaus following the crucifixion of Jesus many times.  It is an exciting account of how Jesus revealed Himself to His followers after the resurrection.  He could have met and preached to the multitudes for a greater impact, but He chose to reveal Himself to individuals instead.  It is a remarkable assurance that He is not only interested in reaching people, but that He has come to meet each personally and privately as they seek Him.  I always leave this passage with a couple of questions, however.  Why did these two not recognize Jesus?  Mary did not recognize Him following His resurrection, but when He spoke she immediately knew it was the Lord; but these two did not recognize Him or His voice. Why did Jesus not reveal Himself sooner, or did He?  In their grief they did not know that He was with them each step, but He knew them; it was only after He sat down as an invited guest at their table of fellowship did they know Him.  Only then were they ready to be a witness for Him.

“Are You Ready To Be A Sacrifice”

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24) 

Many first century Christians gave their life for their testimony of Jesus Christ.  We have read of Stephen and James the son of Zebedee, and of Paul, even Thomas the so called doubter gave his life for his testimony and preaching of Jesus Christ.  Do you realize that at this very moment men and women all around the globe are giving their lives as they are faced with a choice to denounce Jesus Christ or be killed?  Without hesitation they choose Christ, knowing that their decision means certain death for them and their family.  At this writing, there are believers in Iran and North Korea awaiting death for their unmovable testimony concerning Jesus Christ.  Other pastors in India have lost their lives for refusing to denounce Jesus Christ as Savior.  Countless souls in Africa, Asia, and Europe stand willing to give their lives for the sake of Jesus; many thousands have already done so. In America we have unequaled freedom to serve Christ, attend church, and witness for Him and we struggle to find time to give to the Lord.

 

“The Security Of The Believer”

“The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.  The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”  Psalms 121:5,8

Throughout the entire Bible we are reminded of the security God has provided for His children.  Moses spoke of it, David spoke of it, and Peter, John and Paul each gave testimony and recorded it by direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit as they penned down the Word of God.  Jesus not only spoke of it to His disciples, but He demonstrated it at Calvary, sealed it when He sent the Holy Spirit, and settled it when He sat down on the right hand of His Father.  Jesus’ prayer of intercession recorded in John 17 specifically asks that those who would believe on Him would be kept by His Father.  Jude 24 and 25 reminds:  Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory  and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  This is one of the greatest and most assuring truths of doctrine in all the Word of God; it reminds us that nothing can separate or take us away from the love of our Heavenly Father by our Lord Jesus Christ and we are kept by His love.

“Come Lord Jesus Come Quickly”

“And as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3

Jesus had not left His disciples and they were already asking what the sign of His return was going to be.  It is a point of interest for the child of God; it brings worry, excitement, fear, and concern.  Jesus’ Word to His disciples, however, was when you see the signs it is not time to worry, it is time to lift up your head and look for His coming.  Everyday some kind of news from the Middle East is in the paper or on the television news.  It is truly exciting to see the prophecies we have read about being fulfilled before our eyes.  If you have read from the Word of God about the events that are before us you should not be surprised or worried; you should find reason to rejoice because God has privileged this generation to behold the signs of the time before His return.  Most junior high and high school students are required by teachers to bring in current events almost every week; what a great and exciting time it is to study current events and compare them to ancient writings God has recorded in His Holy Word.  Are you ready to meet Him?

“Are You Ready for Sacrifice”

“Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Matthew 5:19

Put a series of letters behind a person’s name or call them an expert and often that will be the credentials that make others believe they are an expert.  The expertise that is recognized by God is not by what we say we know about His Word, but by the value we place on it and how it is observed.  A humble or non-educated person with little or no formal education that follows the Word of God faithfully may be held in higher regard than his counterpart that has many degrees from colleges of higher learning, but doubts the validity of God or His Word. Jesus was opposed everywhere He went by those students of higher learning. The Scribes and Pharisees were supposedly the experts of the Law and the Prophets, yet they interpreted God’s Word for their own selfish purposes.  According to the words of our Lord Jesus in our text, those who manipulate God’s Word and try to undermine or alter it will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whosoever believes it by faith and lives it will be great!

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