Faith & Courage

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Wow!  What a world we live in today!

  • Rebellion towards authority.
  • Fake news.
  • The threat of nuclear war.
  • Disrespect for our flag and our country.
  • Hatred poured out on the gospel.
  • Natural disasters.
  • And on and on and on and on…..

But, are we surprised?  Since the Garden of Eden, sin has had its tentacles sunk into the heart of man and its curse on this earth (Genesis 3).  Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, . . . . In the world you will have tribulation [trouble] (John 16:33).

Yesterday morning, needing an encouraging boost from the Lord, I read the following words:

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. 6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:1-8).

Did you note the repeated phrase, So we are always of good courage (5:6, 8)?  How can I have good courage in a world of sin and trouble?

  1. Remember, as a born again believer, you are not Home yet!
  2. When your body groans because of pain, accident, old age, etc., remember God said it would. Hang on, a new body is coming!  The groaning is a constant reminder of that new house!
  3. God has prepared us for this. We are equipped to endure to the end by His grace.
  4. Faith gives courage because faith is based upon the character of God Who is holy and cannot lie. You look around, and you are tempted to fret and despair.  What does faith say?  Who is God?  Wow! What courage that brings!

How are you walking today?  What has your attention?  What are you meditating on?  Living by faith or fear?  Courageous or cowering?

By the way, Christ has the final, authoritative word on all of life.  Meditate on the rest of John 16:33, These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Press on, believer!

Itty-bitty Christians

This picture says so much! We found these “cute” onesies in a religious bookstore this week. Others said, “Itty bitty _________” (fill-in-the-blank with a church denomination).

I think I understand the “cute” intent of the maker and store owner, but how many of us as true, born-again believers could wear this outfit?

Itty-bitty Christians . . .

  • Are satisfied to stay an infant when it comes to spiritual growth in the Word. Instead of totally immersing themselves in the daily personal intake of the Word (Psalm 119; Ephesians 4:11-16; 5:18-20), a quick dose of an internet devotional or a religious song on Sirius XM on the way to work suffices. The outcome is an itty-bitty faith in an itty-bitty God.
  • Are satisfied to stay an infant with it comes to living out all of God’s purposes for you in the body of Christ, the local church (Acts 2:42-47; Ephesians 3:10; 4:11 – 6:20). Sunday is the Lord’s Day all day, not just for a couple of hours for me to pick and choose how I want to worship. The outcome is itty-bitty participation, connection, transparency, honesty, accountability, body-life, service, praise, fellowship, prayer, evangelism/discipleship, one-another’s, exaltation of Christ, etc. As one lady told me about her church experience, “I like going to the early service because I can go, get it done, and go about my day.”
  • Are satisfied wearing a “onesie” because life is about them instead of glorifying God and serving others. (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 1:15-18) The outcome is an itty-bitty Christian who seldom makes an impact on the world for Christ.
  • Are satisfied being a nominal Christian rather than a genuine, all-out disciple of Christ. Read Luke 14:25-27. Does that passage describe an itty-bitty Christian wearing a “onesie”?

Believers, we are exhorted to grow, to mature in the faith. Take heed to the following and let’s cast off our itty-bitty Christianity!

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. (1 Corinthians 14:20).

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. (2 Peter 3:17-18)

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:13-15)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Hebrews 5:12-13)

There Is No Other Answer

But God

For years, every time I read two particular words in Scripture, especially as found in Ephesians 2:7, but God, my heart leaps within me!  It is a resplendent sound of joy, assurance, perspective, and calm no matter what questions or circumstances of life may come my way!  But God!

Try this.  State your condition or question, then add the words, “But God!”  For instance, “I don’t understand why I lost my job, . . . but God!” Go ahead, try it.

Soak your soul in just these few passages alone and then listen to the link to follow.  Indeed, there is no other answer.

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive (Genesis 50:20).

David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands (1 Samuel 23:14).

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:4-9).

But God – Larnelle Harris

Joining God In His Work With His Resources

 

missions

This week, I have been writing primarily to the congregation of Boones Creek Bible Church.  One of the most blessed aspects of this ministry is joining God in His work through missions!  Every Sunday we are brought up to date about two of our supported missionaries through our Adopt-A-Missionary Ministry.  Each missionary family is “adopted” by one of our church families.  How stirring to hear what God is up around the world as these families give their reports via pictures, videos, praise notes, and prayer requests.  Friend, the most exciting event on the planet happens every time a lost soul repents and receives Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. (If you have never been born again, please take time to watch this: Five Questions)

This Sunday is Grace Giving Missions Sunday.  This is a special day as look to the Lord for His direction in how He will provide for His mission’s work through His people.  BCBC Family, would you consider the questions below after reading the following passages:  Matthew 6:25-33; 28:18-20; Mark 12:41-44; Acts 20:35; 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Philippians 4:16-19.

  • What part will you play in mission’s giving this year at Boones Creek Bible Church so we as a body of believers can be obedient to the Great Commission?
  • Have you been asking God to reveal to you the amount that He would have you trust Him for each month?
  • How big is your God?
  • What is the value of a soul to you and your family?
  • What do you need to set aside that is temporal so you can give for the eternal?
  • What does your wallet, your checkbook say about your heart for missions, for the lost?
  • What will your children learn about giving to missions from your example?
  • How much celebrating via giving will you do in 2017?

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Returning to the Place I Meet with God and Study His Word:  How blessed to be able to take advantage of the grace gift of a place to study and prepare messages for each Sunday!  A place of no distractions, very limited cell service, a place to be still and listen to the voice of God speak through His Word and in prayer.  Why do I go there?  The greatest burden I bear each week is the preparation to preach the Word on Sundays and Wednesdays.  My wife asked me yesterday, “When have you stepped out in faith?”  I said, with a chuckle, “When I married you!”  And that is the truth because we have had to lean on the Lord every day of our married lives. Then I followed it up with a more serious answer, “Every week when I prepare to preach.”  Handling God’s Word is no light assignment, and I want to give the sheep I shepherd good grain each week.  Therefore, this new place of study has become very, very dear to me.

Pastor’s Pals:  For years I’ve had the children in the Sunday morning service come up front and sit on the floor with me while I share an object lesson, work with Buddy Bear, sing songs, and teach truths for life.  How precious are these kids . . . many of whom are now in college and/or married. What an awesome privilege and responsibility it is to minister to these little hearts.  My passion is for them to serve the Lord today and to grow up to be more than just good.  I want them to see them be godly and follow the Lord all their days!

A Day With My Wife Getting Our “Batteries” Recharged:  Since coming back from our August Sabbatical, the ministry calendar has been full of the expected as well as the unexpected that is not unexpected with the Lord.  Having planned for this day back in the summer, it came at a great time.  How wonderful to go to one of our favorite get-away places, Dollywood, and hear good Southern Gospel music from two of my favorite groups, Greater Vision and Karen Peck & New River.  How our hearts were stirred and revived as we listened to music that pointed us to Christ, His atoning work on the cross, His power to save and heal, as well as the promise of Heaven.  One song, among many, that encouraged my heart was written by Rodney Griffin. Here are the lyrics and a link if you desire to listen to it.  As a pastor, you’ll understand why it ministered to my heart.
Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is
Preacher,I’d say it’s been a while since you heard this request,
but my spirit is tired and I need rest.
I want to hear from Heaven a clear word from God,
A sermon of conviction straight from the heart.

(verse 2)
I’ve been hearin’ other preachers say I don’t have to change.
The most eloquent of speakers tell me I’m okay.
But it hasn’t eased my conscience and I know it’s not the truth.
So when you stand before us, can I count on you?

(chorus)
Oh Preacher, you say you want to be my friend,
don’t be afraid to call my sin what it is.
And Preacher, tell me I can overcome,
but it’s only by the blood of the Lamb.
Don’t tell me like I wish it was, Preacher tell me like it is.

(verse 3)
So open up the Word and let the Spirit lead,
Preach until I’ve heard God speak to me.
Don’t worry ’bout my feelin’s, don’t worry ’bout my shame,
Just preach the cross of Jesus and that I’m to blame!

(chorus)

(bridge)
Life is quickly passing, the world is fading fast
and the foolishness of preaching is the only hope we have.

(chorus)

http://www.letssingit.com/greater-vision-lyrics-preacher-tell-me-like-it-is-7d3h74r#ixzz4NgBsMm6S

YouTube video: Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is

 

Just continuing to clip “grace coupons” every day!!!

A God-Ordained Cancer Journey

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To hear the diagnosis of cancer is like trying to hold on in the midst of an 8.0 earthquake.  The sounds of that word sends rippling emotional effects through your mind and body as well on upon all those around you.  Imagine what effect it would have on a congregation when they find out that their relatively young pastor has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Such is the case of Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Oak Ridge, TN.  Pastor Tom Craig is weakening physically day-by-day, yet in the midst of it all, ORBC, along with the Craig family are being strengthened moment-by-moment by the awesome grace of God.

One the members of ORBC, Brad Zockoll, has been giving us a very transparent glimpse into this church’s journey with their dear, beloved pastor.  Today, I share with you the link, august-week-5-the-hollowness-of-cancerPlease take the time to read Brad’s comments from Week 5 as well as the prior posts.

Intercede for Tom & Kim and the congregation of ORBC.  Learn from them as you read these posts.  Praise God for them and with them.

Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

What an Adventure!

Last night while eating supper in a local Lawrenceburg, Indiana, restaurant, I had no problem hearing the conversation of five men at a nearby table. They, too, were out-of-towners and in the area on business. Their ego level was at a fevered pitch! They were doing what men love to do—talk about their exploits, their trips, their adventures, their accomplishments—and all accompanied with laughter and big words (fortunately no swearing)!! Now, before I go any further, I am a man, and the point of this blog is not a negative swipe at my own kind! Easy now.
As I overheard bits and pieces of their triumphs, my mind was drawn to the greatest adventure of life; the most daring of all exploits; the trip of all trips; the primo race of life—–living as a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ who walks by faith and not by sight! As you read Hebrews 12:1, your mind is set on the great cloud of witnesses. Then the writer takes you to the summit, Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We are exhorted to continually keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, turning from all other distractors. He is the Author, Originator, Leader, Guide, Pioneer, and Finisher, Perfecter, End, Completer, Goal of our faith. As the NLT translates it, Jesus, on Whom our faith depends from start to finish. Where all others failed, Jesus succeeded! Jesus conquered sin, death and hell! He is now seated at the Father’s right hand, the place of ultimate authority, the place of full joy, the place of eternal pleasures!

We are running a race that has already been won! We are following in the footsteps of the Ultimate Champion! He is our Supreme Reward! Even in the worst of times, we can walk by faith and not by sight because the Captain of our salvation is the Leader and Completer of the Faith and our faith. You will be misunderstood, mocked, maligned, and misjudged, but preach the Gospel, stand for Christ, go where He calls you, stand tall for Him, go against the humanistic current, lead your family for Christ, pray boldly, sing loudly, study the Word fervently, give freely, and live by faith!!!!! Now, that’s adventure living!!!

By Faith

 

A Cancerous Church

pastorcraig

My heart was greatly saddened to hear of the recent cancer diagnosis of Pastor Tom Craig, Oak Ridge Baptist Church, Oak Ridge, TN.  Today, I am sharing a blog post written by one of the faithful church members of ORBC.  This is powerful.  I beg every one of you to click on the link and read it.  May I ask that you read it slowly, prayerfully, and eternally with your gaze fixed on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2; Colossians 3:1)?

Cancer Has Spread Through the Whole Church

40 Days of Prayer & Fasting: Day #34

Move Forward!

Yesterday, I read Numbers 13-14 and was reminded of God’s plan for us to keep moving forward in faith and courage for Him.  Ten of the twelve spies gave a fear-filled report of the land and its inhabitants (13:26-29, 31-33).  Only two men, Joshua and Caleb, had the courage and faith in God’s word to stand against the fear-mongers and say, “We can!  We must! Move forward!  The land is already ours!” (13:30; 14:6-9).  Sadly, the children of Israel paid an awful price because they chose to listen to men and retreat.  They should have stepped out in courage and moved forward!

Another example we have been studying here of late of moving forward against the foe of doubt, ridicule, fear and criticism is Nehemiah.  He kept on praying and going forward!  How about Abraham?  How about Noah?  What about Peter and John?  What about Stephen?  How about Paul?  All these and many more did not retreat but are known as people of faith who moved forward for God!

Tomorrow begins our revival meeting. Are you advancing?  Are you moving forward for Christ?  Are you more intentional to grow in grace, to memorize the Word, to live in worship, to step out in faith and take risks, to connect with people who need to know Christ, to earnestly pray, to make that visitor at church feel welcome, to follow Christ at any cost, to disciple no matter how hard or how much time it takes, to invite someone to your home to go through The Exchange Bible Study, etc?

Take note of Caleb’s example and words as recorded in Numbers 13:30, Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”  That’s moving forward!!

Reminder:  Our goal for these 40 days of prayer and fasting is that God would so revive and change us that we would both pray and act as the people of God for the glory of God!

Another Reminder:  MOVE YOUR CLOCKS FORWARD AN HOUR!!  Don’t dwell on the hour you lost, but look at what you gain!