Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grace Motivated Joy

The following devotion comes from John Coursen’s daily devotional, “A Day’s Journey.”

…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

The word ‘joy’ means ‘exceedingly happy.’ The way to happiness is to testify of the grace of God. Many people grew up in an atmosphere or in a church which said, ‘It’s your responsibility to pray, to study, to serve.’ And they became burdened by a weight of responsibilities they could never fulfill.

Then, at some point in their walk, they understood that, on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ, they didn’t have to study; they didn’t have to pray; they didn’t have to worship.
You mean, Lord, my sin is forgiven?’ they said. ‘I’m robed in Your righteousness? I don’t have to work to try and attain Your favor or merit Your blessing?’
‘Yes,’ answered God. ‘It’s all grace.’

‘You mean You love me as much when I’m not doing so well as when I’m studying Leviticus and Deuteronomy?’
Wouldn’t You love me more if I was studying Leviticus and Deuteronomy?’

‘No, I can’t love you anymore than I love you right now.’

And what does that do? ‘Wow,’ we say, ‘I wonder what Leviticus says? Where is Deuteronomy, anyway?’ We find ourselves wanting to study. We find ourselves enjoying worship. We find ourselves freely talking to the Lord. Our Christian walk changes from responsibility to response, and that’s when it becomes a whole lot of fun.

If you want an explosion of joy in your heart today, be like Paul—‘testify the gospel of the grace of God.’ Go to the person you work with and say, ‘Every sin you committed last weekend is forgiven. Every sin you’re thinking about today is paid for. You’re free because, when Jesus died on the Cross, He died for every sin every man has ever done. There’s only one unpardonable sin, and that is refusing to receive His forgiveness.’

An interesting thing happens to a person who’s sharing his faith: he becomes a channel through which the joy and power of the Lord flows. For just as electricity will not enter an object unless there’s an outflow from that object, the power of the Lord will not enter a church or an individual in whom there is no conduit for evangelism. When people say, ‘The electricity is gone from our church corporately or from my life personally,’ invariably it’s because there’s no outflow.

Paul was one who was charged-up, red-hot, and turned-on because he was one who continually testified of the Gospel. He never stopped sharing his faith in Christ Jesus.

May God bless us with a grace motivated joy!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lottie Moon's Call into Missions

This past Sunday we looked at John 4 with Jesus and the Woman of Samaria. One of the passages we read was very instrumental in the life of Lottie Moon as God used John 4:35 to call her into Foreign Missions. As we are nearing the Christmas season, and as we will be focusing on the Lottie Moon offering soon, I would like to take some time today to provide some background to her life. 

Multiplied millions of dollars have poured into overseas missions under the banner of Lottie Moon, the Southern Baptist whose name is used to promote our denomination’s annual missionary offering. But who was Lottie Moon and what did she do?

Lottie (short for Charlotte) was born in 1840 and grew up in an old Virginia family. Her father’s plantation house, Viewmont, overlooked the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her mother, a staunch Christian, read to her from the Bible, and as a girl Lottie developed a love for Scripture and for missionary biography. Since there was no church nearby, Mrs. Moon conducted services herself every Sunday for family, neighbors, and servants.

Lottie excelled in school and became one of the first Southern women to earn a Master’s Degree, all the while pondering what to do with her life. In the spring of 1873, Lottie, 33, heard a sermon on John 4:35. As the preacher spoke of fields “white unto harvest,” Lottie made up her mind then and there that she would become a missionary to China, and that fall she was on her way. When her ship was caught in a terrific storm and appeared to be sinking, she wrote: As I watched the mad waste of waters, howling as if eager to engulf us, I think I should scarcely have been surprised to see a Divine Form walking upon them, so sweetly I heard in my inmost soul the consoling words, “It is I, be not afraid.”

For forty years, Lottie Moon worked unafraid in North China, serving faithfully amid storms of war, disease, poverty and plague. When, in her early seventies, a terrible famine swept China, she gave her food and her last dollar for famine relief. She grew so frail and undernourished the doctor ordered her home. She died en route on Christmas Eve, 1912.

“I would that I had a thousand lives that I might give them to the women of China,” she said.
She gave her one life, and it has been multiplied a thousandfold.

May God bless the work of our missionaries, and may we all be on mission for God!

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Becoming Fishers of Men

3 Results of Jesus' words: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”(Matthew 4:19)

1. We’re To Be Followers of Christ. Jesus spoke much about our following Him. The word “follow” occurs 92 times in the Gospels (nkjv).
• “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38).
• He told the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matt. 19:21)
• He evangelized Levi the tax-collector with just two words: “Follow Me” (Luke 5:27).
• “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
• His last words to Peter were similar to His first words: “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22).
Following Christ means we make Him Lord of our daily lives, seek out His promises and claim them, seek out His commands and obey them, and offer ourselves as living sacrifices for Him (Rom. 12:1–2).

2. We’re To Be Fashioned By Christ. “... and I will make you.” The parallel account (Mark 1:17) says: “I will make you to become....” As we follow Christ, He makes us to become. He begins to carve us into His type of people. A school teacher who was bypassed for a promotion went to her administrator and complained, “I have twenty years of experience, and you promoted someone who had only been teaching five years.” The administrator replied, “No, you don’t have twenty years of experience. You have one year of experience twenty times. You’re still teaching the same things and in the same way you did your first year. You haven’t grown in your profession.” Christ wants us to grow, to develop, to become effective representatives of Himself.

3. We’re to be Fisherman for Christ. “...I will make you fishers of men.” Some years ago the New York Fire Department had a great parade. Included were buses loaded with people from all walks of life. The sign said: “All of these were saved by our Fire Department from burning buildings.” In Paul’s letters, he said that those he had won to Christ were his crown and joy, his trophies of grace.

How can we be better witnesses for Christ?
• Ask God to give you a burden for a handful of people who need to be saved, and begin praying for them.
• Live a consistent Christian life, letting others see the hope within you.
• Be ready when asked to give a reason for that hope (1 Peter 3:15).
Seize opportunities for inviting others to church. If you invite enough people, some will come.

May God grow us to become good "Fishers of Men."

- Bro. Dave

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Harvest Festival and Poland Mission Trip Report

I would like to thank Amy Riley and the Children’s Committee for their hard work for this past Sunday Night’s Children’s event. We had a great turnout with many children participating and a fun time had by all. Thanks also to everyone who made soup and joined in on the fellowship. My children came home with bags full of candy and heads full of great memories!

The trip to Poland was an incredible experience! The primary objective of our trip was to assist the Glogow Baptist Church in their Logos Language School outreach. Our team played an important role in the Logos Language Center by teaching English classes for K-12th Grade students. The involvement of Americans in the school generates incredible interest in the city of Glogow, whose parents all want their children to learn English so that they can have better opportunities. Everyone in Poland desires to spend time with native speakers of English (Americans or Brits) so that they can improve their speaking. The school sees a 60% involvement rate in its annual English Camps, where the Gospel is presented and many children and parents have been coming to faith in Christ.

I spent many days teaching classes of K-3rd grade students. I was able to see new students showing up to the school after some buzz had been generated from our team’s involvement with the school. All of us spent some time speaking to the area’s public schools, which served as an incredible commercial for the school. This afforded us many opportunities to talk about our faith in Jesus. Many of the students who attend the Logos Language center would mention so in the public schools and their excellent English skills would encourage others to attend.

I was amazed to learn how hard it is to see Polish people come to a saving faith in Jesus. The staff of the church shared with me that decisions take many years to see.  The Polish people believe that since they are a Catholic nation, even though the vast majority never attends church, that they are OK with God. I praise God that I was able to visit with brand new Polish believers and see their passion to reach their nation! All of our team was deeply touched by the hospitality and humor of the Polish believers. The church was eternally grateful for our involvement in their school, as they see American involvement as vital to the fruitfulness of their outreach.  

I want to thank everyone for your prayers and support of this trip. My desire as a pastor is that we would not just give to missions, but we would also be involved in going, and I am thankful for a church that does both!

May God bless us with a heart for fulfilling His Great Commission!
-         -  Bro. Dave

Notes on Revival

I have enjoyed the fellowship and preaching this week of Bro. Arnold Moon. His sermons have been both enjoyable and convicting! I am thankful for his willingness to come and to bring the messages during our revival and I look forward to the way God is going to continue to use this revival in the life of our church.

As I reflect on our revival, I am reminded of some words from preachers of old and how they longed for a revival:
“We need a work of the Holy Spirit of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they turn to God and live. We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit. We would behold the fire descending from heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?” (Spurgeon)

“A revival is a time of quickening or impartation of life. As God alone can give life, a revival is a time when when God visits His people and by the power of His Spirit imparts new life to them, and through them imparts life to sinners dead in trespasses and sins. We have religious excitements gotten up by the cunning methods and hypnotic influence of the mere professional evangelist; but these are not revivals and are not needed. They are the devil’s imitations of a revival. New life from God–that is a revival. A general revival is a time when this new life from God is not confined to scattered localities, but is general throughout Christendom and the earth.
…revivals also have a decided influence on the unsaved world.

First of all, they bring deep conviction of sin. Jesus said that when the Spirit was come He would convince the world of sin (John 16:7-8). Now we have seen that a revival is a coming of the Holy Spirit, and therefore there must be new conviction of sin, and there always is. If you see something men call a revival, and there is no conviction of sin, you may know at once that it is bogus. It is a sure mark.” (R.A. Torrey)

May God bless us with a revival!

-      Bro. Dave