Friday, November 29, 2013

God Blesses Faithfulness

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:7
Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest."

Insights: Paul wrote in his letter to the church of Philippi, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (4:19),”  I want you to notice that God supplies your needs ACCORDING to His riches, not OUT of His riches.  In other words, God’s riches are an endless supply.  There will never be a time He will run out of being able to bless you when you have been faithful to Him.  Now having laid that foundational statement notice today’s verse.  God blessed this woman’s faithfulness.  She believed God would do exactly what He had promised to do and she POURED.  She poured until there were no more vessels to be filled.  Remember from yesterday that it was not until the last vessel was full that the oil stopped flowing.  Because of this faithful action we can see the Lord telling her to go and sell all of this oil and pay her family debt off.  Now we have no idea how many vessels this woman filled, but what we do know is that there was such an abundance of oil this woman was able to live on the money she still had after she paid off her debts.  Talk about an overflow of blessing!  We need to begin examining our hearts and lives, Beloved.  I pray each of us are faithful like this woman.  I pray we are able to look back and remember the times God was faithful to us in our obedience back to Him.  God is a God who desires to WOW His children.  He wants us to be so blown away by His gracious provisions in our lives that we can’t help to declare His glories to the world.  Do you think this woman was silent about the Lord’s gracious provision and blessing?  I just can’t image that being the case.  I believe she went back to every person who lent her a vessel and told the story of God’s grace.  It is my prayer as you recognize the provisions of the Lord you also will shout from the mountain tops that your Redeemer lives and is a rescuer to those in need.  He delivered you from your bondage of need and is worthy of praise.  Beloved, count your many blessings and name them one by one.

  1. In what ways has God blessed you this week?
  2. Do you regularly count your blessings and name them one by one?

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I take for granted Your marvelous gifts of grace to me.  Help me to cultivate a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving as You pour Your blessings out on me.  Amen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Actions Prove Our Faith

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!  Have a blessed day with your families and/or friends!

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:5-6
So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured.  When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not one vessel more." And the oil stopped.

Insights: Let me quote Michael Catt’s book The Power of Desperation again this week.  He wrote, “The widow didn’t call the local paper to come and watch.  She didn’t get on the local radio or television station to describe the jars.  She did what she was told to do and shut the door. . . .  The key to getting hold of God is to get alone with Him.  God seldom meets us in a crowd.”  Notice she shut the door.  It is referenced three times in this passage.  If we are going to live lives that bring honor and glory to God, then they have to be lives of faith.  The only way to grow our faith and to truly hear what the Father has to say to us is by getting alone and having our daily quiet time.  Again, let me remind you that this is a real historical event.  The Lord God literally performed a miracle in this woman’s life.  At the same time, oil in the Bible is often times associated with the Holy Spirit.  This woman shut the door and let the Holy Spirit fill her life full of His presence and blessing because she walked in obedience to the Lord’s commands.  The last thing I want you to understand is that her actions of going to the neighbors for the vessels, shutting the door and pouring the oil proved what she really believed about Elisha’s command.  This woman did believe the words of the prophet, and through the prophet, the words of God.  Because she did believe, she obeyed and watched God perform a miracle in her life.  Beloved, we need to quit doubting the commands of God and obediently say, “Yes” to Him and let Him work the details out in our lives.  No matter what you are facing, I promise you it will be better for you to prove your faith with obedience than to try and solve the issue yourself.  Let God perform a miracle as you pour a little oil into the empty jars of your life.

  1. What do your actions say about your faith?
  2. When was the last time you actively and whole-heartedly abandoned yourself to the will of God?
Prayer: Father, forgive me when I fail to walk in obedience, but hear my cry now and change my faithless heart into a courageous heart which lives by faith.  I desire for my life to honor You.  By Your grace may it be so.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

God Tests Our Faith

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:3-4
Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. "And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full."

Insights: Hebrews 11:6 informs us that it is impossible to please God without faith.  One of the attributes of faith is that it always presses us outside of our comfort zones.  A lot of times the commands of God don’t even make sense to us.  I can only image when Elisha, the spokesman for God, told her to go to all of her neighbors and borrow EMPTY vessels from them that this widow thought, “What good is that going to do me?”  In our modern day mind we would have thought Elisha would have told her to go and get all of the FULL vessels from her neighbors and have an “oil sale” to raise money.  After all, that is the way God works, right?  Obviously, the answer is no.  That method is not the way the Lord always works.  In life we face all kinds of things.  The woman in our reading lost her husband and was now facing the bill collectors.  I am not saying God caused her husband to die in order for Him to test her faith.  What I am saying is God will use any situations in which we find ourselves to test our faith.  Sometimes the Lord puts us in those situations (i.e. Adam and Eve).  Sometimes the Lord allows Satan to put us in those situations (i.e. Job).  Sometimes the Lord allows us to put ourselves in those situations (i.e. Ananias and Sapphira).  The point is no matter how the situation comes about, the Lord will use it to test our faith.  He gave this woman the answer to her problem, but would she accept His answer of provision.  After all, the answer the Lord gave sounded pretty crazy.  Beloved, let me encourage you to respond positively to whatever the Lord asks you to do.  I promise you in the end you will be glad you did.  Every time you respond with a “Yes, Lord!” your faith grows; your trust and dependence upon Him grows; your boldness and ability to walk faithfully after Him grows.  Every time you are stronger and better than you were before.  Trust the Lord, step out of your comfort zone, and give glory to the Lord as you walk by faith!

  1. In what ways is God presently testing your faith?
  2. What has He specifically asked you to do that you are reluctant to obey?

Prayer: Father, I understand that You will always press on me to move beyond my comfort zone and walk in the realm of faith.  Help me in my weakness to trust You and to bring You glory as I respond in faith.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

God Focuses on What We DO Have

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:2
Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil."

Insights: Let me quote a section from Michael Catt’s book The Power of Desperation.  “Elisha asked her, ‘What do you have in the house?’  He didn’t offer financial counseling.  He asked her simply to tell him what she had.  Desperate people don’t argue, debate, or dialogue.  They do what they are told to do when God speaks.  God was about to reverse her situation because she was willing to acknowledge her desperate need.  Most of us would have missed the miracle because we would have argued about the method God was using.  After all, when you’re at the point of no return, what’s a little jar of oil going to do to rectify the situation?”  Catt’s quote helps us to understand that God sees our situations differently than we do.  You will recall from yesterday that we as people often times focus on what we don’t have.  God on the other hand focuses on what we do have.  In this case this woman had a little oil.  Now the amount she had would have been about the amount allowed for an airplane flight, but it was what she had.  I want you to understand that this was a real historical story.  There really was a little jar of oil.  At the same time, I want you to understand that oil in the Bible is often times associated with the Holy Spirit.  In our lives, God sees the Holy Spirit in those of His children who are born again.  So, no matter what your situation looks like, if you are His child, He sees what you do have which is His Spirit.  The second aspect of Catt’s quote I want you to notice as he writes about this passage is the miracle.  We often times do get hung up on the method of the miracle, but God is in the miracle business and He is going to do it whatever way will bring Him the most glory.  Beloved, I encourage you to change your focus.  Stop seeing only your problem or need and start seeing the God capable of rescuing you from your problem or need.  By faith live with an expectant heart for His answer to your specific situation.  God desires to amaze and wow you with His majestic presence and power.  To Him be the Glory!
  1. Are you beginning to see things as God sees them?
  2. Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to do a miraculous work in your life?

Prayer: Father, open my eyes to see what You see and help me to recognize my need as an opportunity for You to perform a miracle.  When the miracle comes, give me the joy and pleasure of proclaiming Your great name to the world.  Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The World Focuses on What They Don't Have

Scripture: 2 Kings 4:1
Now a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD; and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."

Insights: Verse one reveals to us how the world looks at problems.  Our focus is often times on what we don’t have and not on the One who can meet our every need.  Now I do not wish to minimize this woman’s situation.  She has just lost her husband whom, we presume, she deeply loved.  He was a prophet (for modern day comparison: he was like a preacher) and apparently not very wise when it came to finances.  He left his wife with a huge debt and now the bill collectors had begun to call.  Now in this time in history, it was in the bill collector’s rights to take this woman’s children as payment for the debt and put those children into the slave market.  At this point in the story, this reality is all the woman could see.  She was about to lose everything she really valued in this world.  Her husband was gone and now her children were about to be gone as well.  I have a dear pastor friend who often says something to this degree, “The only people who are candidates for a miracle are those in need.”  Well, this woman is in terrible trouble and desperately in need of a miracle.  Her focus may be only on what she presently does not have (the money to pay the debt), but she at least knows who to run to in her desperation.  She cried out to the prophet of God.  What you need to understand is that in those days, God spoke through the prophets.  So, by going to the prophet, this woman was really going to the Lord God and crying out, “Help me!”  Beloved, when you are facing crises in your life, I pray your focus gets lifted off your circumstances and quickly rises to the Lord God.  He is the only One who can meet your need.  Lift your eyes to the heavens from where your help comes and watch the Lord provide a miracle in your life.  Then go and tell others what the Lord has done for you!

  1. When situations arise in your life that are less than desirable, where does your mind tend to focus?
  2. What obstacle are you presently facing that you need the Lord to intervene and perform a miracle?

Prayer: Father, I so often fall prey to negative thoughts when circumstances do not go as I wish.  Help me to recognize You are still a miracle working God and desire radical life changes in those with whom You are interacting.  Help me to recognize Your involvement in my life. Amen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Because It's a New Day We Live in the Word and Abide with God

Scripture: Joshua 1:7b-9
be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

Insights: The last two truths I taught Sunday morning go hand in hand.  Verses seven-b and verse eight deal with spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis.  In fact, God commands Joshua to meditate on His book day and night.  This one truth is the clarion call in my ministry.  If we are going to grow in our relationship with the Lord our God, then we must spend time with Him every day and that means in His Word, the Bible.  If you are unwilling to spend time with the Lord every day in His Word, then you will be one who often times falls prey to being a “nah” say’er or an “It can’t be done” kind of person.  The reason is because you will be walking this Christian life out in your own power and in your own strength and you will fail.  The last point, as I stated, goes hand in hand with the first.  What I want you to notice in terms of emphasis from verse nine is that God was going to go everywhere Joshua went.  Because of God’s presence, Joshua did not have to tremble or be dismayed at the enemy.  Joshua was going to do his part of abiding with God by spending time with Him and living in His Word.  Joshua did not do this perfectly because he is a sinful human being, but God did do His part perfectly.  He did go wherever Joshua and the people of Israel went.  God’s promise still holds true to us.  Jesus said in His great commission that He would be with us always even to the end of the age.  Beloved, what a promise we can hold fast to!  May you strive this day to abide with the Lord God and allow Him to direct your path.  I promise you it will be worth whatever the cost!

  1. Have you been having a consistent daily quiet time alone with the Lord?
  2. Do you think about the Lord throughout the day and maintain an abiding relationship with Him?

Prayer: Father, thank You that You desire a relationship with me.  Thank You that You sent Jesus to make it possible for us to have an ongoing and abiding relationship with the Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Because It's a New Day We Live Strong and Courageously

Scripture: Joshua 1:5b-7a
Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. "Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. "Only be strong and very courageous;

Insights: Now that we know the time period in which we need to live, we must turn and look at how we actually live in that time period of the present with a hope for the future.  Today’s verses give us the first ingredient to such a life.  Notice that this verse is not a suggestion.  Two times in these verses and one time in verse nine God commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous.  There is a task we have been called to accomplish and each and every day it will take strength and courage to walk obediently with the Lord.  On Sunday I warned the people that if they were “nah” say’ers or “It can’t be done” kind of people, then they need to go to the church up the road.  We at First Baptist Church Bowling Green are not going to be such people, but rather we are going to live by faith and in obedience to the Lord God as we live strong and courageous lives.  Notice also with me the first line of encouragement God gave to Joshua.  He told him that He was going to be with him just as He had been with Moses.  Now Joshua had seen God do amazing things through Moses’ ministry.  It is a fairly predictable assumption that Joshua was encouraged by these words of the Lord.  I think that part of the reason God gave this kind of encouragement was because we as a people, in our old sinful nature, are “nah” say’ers and  “It can’t be done” kind of people.  Joshua was scared to face these enemies and easily could have fallen prey to that old nature, but being told that God was going to be with him encouraged Joshua to take the next step.  Beloved, the Lord is doing the same thing with us.  If we will but pause and listen, God is telling us that we can courageously and with strength charge the new territory for His kingdom and He is going to be right there with us.  Are you willing to charge the enemies gate with us?

  1. Are you a “nah” say’er or an “It can’t be done” kind of person?
  2. Are you a person who is living life full of strength and courage because of your faith in the Lord God?

Prayer: Father, You have commanded me to live a life of strength and courage.  Move in my heart and transform me into that kind of person.  I want my life to bring You glory.  May it come to pass quickly Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Because It's a New Day We Live with Hope for the Future

Scripture: Joshua 1:3-5a
"Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. "From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.

Insights: We now know that we don’t live in the past and we do live in the present.  What then do we do with the future?  Today’s verses give us a glimpse of insight into this truth.  The primary thing to notice in these verses is the individual speaking.  You will recognize from the context of the passage that it is God speaking to Joshua.  The reason this is significant is because it is not Joshua’s plans to take all of the land for the people of Israel.  These promises are coming straight from the Lord God.  We must quickly come to the realization that our wills, desires and wants play no part in the life of a church.  It is not the will, desire or want of the pastoral leadership either.  There is only One head of the church and that is Jesus Christ our Lord.  It is my personal opinion the greatest challenge facing the church of America is “us” inside of the church.  We have forgotten that it is the Lord’s church and we talk and act as if it is our church.  When that horrific scenario takes place multiple divisions begin to set into the life of the church.  These divisions and factions then create conflict among each other and word gets spread through the evil gossip mill.  Before you know it, lost people have heard about the church and it has nothing really to do with the Lord and His work, but instead is the fussing and feuding within the walls among “brothers” and “sisters” in the Lord.  God forgive us for this selfish attitude.  Let me be very clear.  The ONLY One who has a right to charter the course and destiny of a church is Jesus.  Beloved, notice with me the first part of verse five as we walk in that kind of obedience, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.”  This verse means we live with hope for our future because we are victorious!

  1. Are you trying to tell God what your future plans ought to be?
  2. Have you come to a place where you are willing to surrender your will to the Father’s?

Prayer: Father, it really is all about You!  Forgive me when I try to make it anything else.  Only Your will matters and I pray You soften my heart to be receptive to Your leadership and grace.  May my life bring You glory as I follow Your paths. Amen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Because It's a New Day We Live in the Present

Scripture: Joshua 1:2b-e
now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

Insights: Yesterday we observed how many people are stuck in the past and are incapable of moving on with their lives.  When we move into the remainder of verse two we find God commanding Joshua to ARISE!  Notice with me that in this verse God only gives Joshua one command and that is to cross the Jordan River.  Each day God has tasks He wishes us to accomplish for Him and His kingdom.  Often times what happens is we get ourselves so busy with routine and patterns that we fail to hear God’s voice and commands for each given day.  Another problem that some people have is they are always living in the future and talking about what they are going to do.  Unfortunately, these people never do anything in the present to make their “dreams” come to pass.  They have great schemes and talk, but no activity.  Beloved, the present is all we are promised.  We must live each day in complete surrender to the lordship of Christ Jesus.  When He says, “ARISE!”  We need to arise right then.  Think about Jesus’ command to those who would follow after Him.  He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross monthly, and follow Him.”  Is that what the verse says?  Absolutely NOT!  The verse says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and follow Him.”  Even Jesus’ requisite for obedience was a daily abiding with Him in order to know His will and His ways.  Do these statements mean that we don’t plan for the future then?  Again, a resounding no.  Tomorrow we will look at what the future looks like, but until then, Beloved, remember to live in the present fully obeying the commands of God.

  1. Are you living in the past, present or future?
  2. In your present, are you fully obeying the commands of God?

Prayer: Father, help my heart to abide with You daily.  Help me to serve You daily.  Grant me the wisdom to know what Your will is for me THIS day and give me the courage to faithfully obey You. Amen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Because It's A New Day We Don't Live in the Past

Scripture: Joshua 1:1-2a
Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, "Moses My servant is dead;

Insights: What a way to start a book, “Moses My servant is dead!”  The emphatic way in which the Lord pronounces this truth to Joshua is startling and powerful.  The basic point God is making to Joshua is: Don’t Live in the Past.  Sunday I gave three areas in which people often times find themselves living in the past.  We must let these go and ask for the Lord to enable us through His grace to move past them into the present.  First, forgiveness of someone who has wronged, hurt or caused you pain.  Some people are so caught up in their pain over a past offense that they are incapable of moving on with their lives.  We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us grace to forgive them and love them, just as the Lord Jesus loved us while we were yet enemies of God by going to the cross to pay our sin debt.  Second, we must not live in the “good old days.”  The fact of the matter is the “good ole days” were not as good as we remember them and by living there we are not able to hear what God is saying for us today.  Third, our own failures and mistakes must not keep us tethered to the past. Sometimes people who have made a mistake refuse to get back up after they have fallen down and begin to serve the Lord again.  When that refusal to get up happens, their past sins and disappointments become the very thing that drives their present.  Every decision they make is wrapped up in that one moment of time and it prevents them from moving on to new and more glorious opportunities with the Lord.  Could you image what Peter’s life would have been like if he had not accepted the forgiveness of the Lord after his denial of Jesus three times?  In fact, in John chapter twenty-one we see Peter returning to the life of safety and conformity before Jesus takes him through the healing process.  Because he refused to live in his past failures, Peter was able to preach the sermon on Pentecost and 3,000 came to know the Lord.

  1. Is there someone you need to forgive for a past wrong, hurt or pain that was inflicted upon you?
  2. Are you caught up in the “good ole days” and incapable of letting go of the past?

Prayer: Father, give me Your Spirit to forgive those in my past who have hurt me.  Also, Lord, let me learn the lessons from years gone by, but help me to not live there as if they were the best years of my life.  Help me to see life from Your perspective. Amen.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Final Thoughts for Little River Baptist Church

Scripture: Philippians 1:3-8
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

Insights: Today is my last Thoughts by Scott as the pastor of Little River Baptist Church (I will not be writing my thoughts next week).  As Kristy and I depart from this ministry assignment and move on to our next the verse for today is appropriate for this occasion.  Along our journey Kristy and I have met many lifelong friends who have become family members to us.  This statement is just as true of Little River Baptist Church.  As I reflect back over these past seven years I can truly say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”  We have grown together in our relationship with the Lord and have stirred on each other to be more faithful in our pursuit of God’s mission for us.  As a result I look back on my time with this dear body of believers, who are my family, with great joy and love.  Though we depart for a season (we will bring our children back for a visit once we have completed this adoption process) here on earth, we know our reunion one day will be glorious as we enter into our Lord Jesus’ presence and worship Him together again.  My prayer is you will truly embody the mission statement you developed as you sought the Lord and His will for your future.  May Little River Baptist Church truly be known as a unified family, a beacon of light, joyfully worshiping God, doing His will and building a legacy for future Christ-followers.  I pray you daily grab hold and live out this mission before a watching world and that many lost people will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior as a result of your faithful obedience to the commands you have received from the Lord.  May the Holy Spirit fill each and every word and action in which you partake and may your testimony bring Him glory as He fills you with His grace.  Little River Baptist Church, Kristy and I love you more than words can truly express.  Thank you for the privilege and honor of having been your pastor.  We shall, by God’s grace, meet again on this side of eternity.  You are also always welcome in our new home in Florida.  May we both pursue the glory and honor of our Lord in our ministry assignments He grants to us.  May we always be found faithful.  In love, Scott.

Prayer: Father, bless Little River Baptist Church with Your grace and power.  May Your favor be on them as they press forward as partners in the gospel.  May You, as a result of their faithful obedience, be brought glory.  Thank You for this precious body of believers who I call my family and friends. Amen.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Proclamation is Worldwide

Scripture: Acts 1:8
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Insights: Today’s verse is the crux of the passage.  Monday we learned that the Holy Spirit is the power for our proclamation of the gospel.  Once again this truth is brought forth in this verse today.  Then Jesus tells us our mission of proclamation is to the entire world.  The way the phraseology is written this does not mean once you have totally evangelized your Jerusalem (your community) that then you move on to Judea (your state).  Rather what the passage implies is that you do all four of these areas (community, state, nation, and world) simultaneously.  I also want you to notice who is being commissioned by Jesus to all of these places—YOU!  This “you” is not limited to just the eleven apostles that were still remaining.  This hillside had probably 500 people there.  This command was given to ALL of God’s children and that includes you if you are born again and have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  All too often we get tunnel vision with our own personal passions.  In other words, there are some that are so focused on their community that they cannot understand why we ought to spend money, resources and time going to other places when there are so many lost people in our back yards.  There are others that are so internationally mission minded that they cannot understand why a person would be unwilling to go on a short term mission trip and all they ever talk about is their next mission endeavor.  God has passionately instilled these heart beats in these individuals.  The danger, however, is to have that be all you are willing to do in regards to this commission.  This commission is for all to go everywhere.  Beloved, we need to stretch ourselves and begin seeing this world the way Jesus sees it.  We need to begin feeling what He feels when He looks on His creation.  We need to be burdened and then responsive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings toward proclamation.  As a side note: all across North America today people will be inviting lost individuals into their homes to watch The Cross, which was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Pray that many will come into a saving relationship with Jesus as a result of this crusade.  My God be brought glory through our proclamation!

  1. Is there anything holding you back from being a worldwide proclaimer for Jesus?
  2. Are you willing to ask the Lord to change your heart about personal involvement in missions?

Prayer: Father, let me see the world through Your eyes.  Let me feel what You feel when You look on Your children.  Let this transformation compel me to be bold in my proclamation of the gospel. Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Proclamation is ALL about God

Scripture: Acts 1:7
He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

Insights: Yesterday we saw the disciples get a little distracted in regards to what is really important.  I think we often times do the same things the disciples did back then.  We live our lives in such routine patterns that we miss out on the intimacy God desires for us to have with Him.  We want His established kingdom.  We want Him to heal us.  We want Him to provide for us.  We want Him to show up and do amazing things in our worship services.  We want Him to comfort our hearts and give us peace.  We want Him to make us feel joyful and content.  We want and we want and we want, but do we really want Him?  I will speak for myself in this case: I often times forget that it is all about God and it has nothing to do with my wants.  I often times desire the benefits God grants to me and forget about the relationship I have with Him.  In these terrible moments God becomes like a Genie in a bottle to my whims and wishes.  The preceding thought is why I believe verse seven is found in this passage.  When Jesus said, “It is not for you …” I believe it is the modern day equivalent as to saying, “It is not about you.”  The second half of the verse tells us “the Father has fixed by His own authority.”  Again the modern day equivalent is that of saying, “It is all about Him!”  Every individual battles through this struggle.  Think back to Moses in the Old Testament.  God basically told Moses that He would send His angel with Him and do everything for the children of Israel He had promised, but He was not going to go with them Himself.  His angel would be His representative.  In other words, God said, “I will bless you and give you everything I promised, but I am not going to be with you.”  Moses, in essence, said, “NO!  If you don’t go with us, then we will not leave this place.  It would be better to stay here with you than to receive all of your blessings without You.”  Beloved, do not let the routines of life and the desires for blessing prevent you from a growing, intimate and real relationship with the living Lord.  Choose Him!

  1. Do you ever forget that it is not about you and your desires?
  2. Do you ever treat God like a Genie in a bottle who grants your wishes?

Prayer: Father, it really is all about You.  Grow me in my relationship with You and help me to live this reality out in my life.  I want You and not the things You do for me.  Help me to understand, really understand, how important our relationship is. Amen.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Proclamation is Easily Distracted

Scripture: Acts 1:6

So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 

Insights: Think about the scene that has just transpired between Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus has spent forty days with them after His resurrection and taught them many things.  Now comes His day of departure and He takes them to a mountain side.  While there He tells them to go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit, because when He comes upon them they will have power.  Right after those words, verse six comes on the scene and the disciples are distracted with the conversation of Jesus’ restoration of the kingdom.  Now is there anything inherently wrong with asking about the second coming of the Lord Jesus?  No.  Should we study end time prophecy?  Yes.  Here is the point, however, which I want you to understand.  We in the body of Christ often times get ourselves distracted from what is truly important.  I have observed church members who get themselves all wrapped up in their own little desires, opinions and thoughts that they fail to really engage Jesus with a relationship.  Church, for these individuals, just becomes an extension of their own will and wants.  Yesterday’s promise of the Holy Spirit is all about a relationship with the Lord.  It is about receiving power to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world.  Instead of recognizing what was truly important in Jesus’ promised words about the Spirit, they are consumed with the end time stuff.  This question is not the first time Jesus has been asked about His restored kingdom by the disciples.  We all know people whose tractors are cranked by end time prophecy.  It reminds me of the joke about God sitting in his living room in heaven with all of the end time charts scattered all over the floor.  Jesus walks into the room and God says to Him, “Son, as soon as I figure this out I will send you back.”  The reason this is funny is because there are literally hundreds of different opinions and thoughts regarding the second coming of the Lord and people get so wrapped up in the pursuit of knowledge regarding this subject that they miss the most important thing.  The import thing is a relationship with God through the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell within us.  The second important thing is the proclamation of the gospel.  Beloved, let’s keep our focus where it needs to be. 

  1. What is distracting you from the relationship with the Lord?
  2. What is distracting you from sharing the love of Jesus with other people?
Prayer: Father, I am so easily distracted.  Forgive me for my waywardness.  Turn my heart to You and let me see the world as You do.  Give me a burdened heart for the lost and grow me in Your grace. Amen.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Proclamation is Powered by the Holy Spirit

Scripture: Acts 1:4-5

Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 

Insights: These two verses are some of my favorite.  I say that so often it is kind of funny.  The reason, however, is because of one word found in verse four.  Before I share that word, let me lay some ground work for us.  We, as people, are very self-sufficient, at least I am.  We don’t really like to ask other people for help very often.  We like to do things ourselves.  This independent attitude starts off at a very young age.  I think about children I watch playing in the nursery or other locations from time to time.  I cannot recall how many times I have heard one of those little ones say, “I can do it!” as they pull the puzzle piece or toy away from the adult trying to help them.  We do the same thing when it comes to evangelism as well.  Often times we learn our formula and that is what we depend upon in our gospel presentation.  The one word I want you to notice in verse four, however, is wait.  Think about all the disciples had scene.  For the last forty days they had been walking around, eating and learning from Jesus, the resurrected Messiah.  They saw Him die and placed in a tomb and now they are conversing with Him.  They were ready to charge hell with a water pistol for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom.  Jesus, however, tells them to wait.  He did not tell them to storm Jerusalem and remove the Roman governor.  He did not tell them to charge Rome itself and defeat the Emperor.  He did not tell them to go to the Sanhedrin and proclaim His resurrection and victory.  He told them to wait.  Verse five tells us why they were told to wait.  They had not been baptized with the Holy Spirit.  That event would come ten days later.  If they had done any of the previous things, it would have been in their own power and would have been a dismal failure.  He tells them to wait on the Spirit to empower them with His power, then, and only, then would they be affective for the proclamation of the gospel.  Beloved, we must be dependent upon the Lord! 

  1. Are you trying to live the Christian life in your own power and strength?
  2. Has that effort left you exhausted and frustrated?
Prayer: Father, I am such a self-sufficient kind of person and do not like to rely on anyone.  Forgive me for this prideful attitude and grow my by Your grace to be humble in You and wait for Your Spirit before I attempt to serve You.  For without You, it is futile work indeed. Amen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Disciples are Going Somewhere

Scripture: Ephesians 4:15-16

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. 

Insights: There is one last truth we need to examine from this passage.  Disciples are going somewhere.  Notice in both verse fifteen and sixteen there is a reference to growing up.  This growth we are told in verse fifteen is a result of being under the headship of Jesus Christ.  Our growth, therefore, is determined by Jesus taking us on this journey which leads to the building up of the body of Christ.  At Little River Baptist Church we have spent a great deal of time in prayer, discussions, research and programming to determine what the vision and mission the Lord would have for LRBC.  It is important for us to use this mission as a springboard into every ministry endeavor we participate.  LRBC is striving to become a unified family, a beacon of light, joyfully worshipping God, doing His will and building a legacy for future Christ-followers.  On Monday I mentioned that I hoped this week would be a prayer and blessing for all disciples.  The wording of LRBC mission statement encompasses the elements which ought to be found in all churches: fellowship, evangelism, worship, ministry and discipleship.  The sad fact is many believers are not following Jesus in a progression which is leading to His ultimate glory.  This commentary on many believers is what stirs my heart to pray for the disciples of Jesus to change their course of direction and obediently follow Jesus. It is my hope and desire for LRBC to become a strong church that displays these characteristics in every ministry endeavor they participate for the glory and grace of God.  Beloved, I promise you the journey of growth with Jesus is often times exciting, sometimes scary, but it is always worth it.   

  1. In what direction are you heading?
  2. Are you following Jesus on His journey He has planned for you?
Prayer: Father, we as people make all kinds of plans, but in the end they are futile without Your direction.  Bend my heart to Your will and let me follow hard after You.  May my life bring You glory. Amen.