Tag Archives: preaching

I Missed the Conference

I Missed The Conference

Red face. Swollen brow. My left eye was nearly swollen shut.  It was somewhat difficult to breath. The headache was paralyzing.  “You look terrible.” My doctor said to me Monday morning.  I appreciate it when my medical doctors are straight up with me.  “Take this medicine and you will be better in 3-4 days.”  I would rather be “better” in 20 minutes, but I was grateful.

That night was our Mission Conference.  I fought through the pain the previous day or two, but after several nights of not sleeping well and with the eye still swollen and headache still pounding, I knew I was a “no go” for the conference.

I do not recall ever missing one of our church missions conference.  Never. Ever.  Even as a young person, it was a priority in our home to be at every church service and every church event.  Our parents were faithful to see us be involved in church.

Missions conference holds many special memories in my mind as a young person.  The kid’s conferences, meeting the missionaries from around the world, and seeing the pastor call “all those willing to serve as missionaries” to come to the front so we could have a word of prayer.

As I have been reflecting on the message I heard Dr. Scott Caudill deliver on Tuesday night (I was well enough to attend) I began thinking of a verse he referenced, Matthew 6:21, For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  Of course, the context of what Jesus is speaking is dealing with money and stuff.  It applies to our time and talent as well.

Because my parents placed their treasure in the things of God; church, missions conference, youth group, etc. they made sure that their sons were at these events and services.  Ball games, piano practice, art class, overtime at work, and other stuff (even school) were not more important than the church stuff.  This made a difference in my life.  Their “Treasure” eventually was where their heart (and where my heart also) ended up – invested in the things of God.

Check out this verse again, “Where your treasure is…”  Before the heart is moved, the treasure is already in it’s place.  The heart catches up to where the treasure is.  It does not say “Love God with your heart and then your treasure will be at the right place.”

No, Jesus is saying, “Put your treasure in the right place and then your heart will be in the right place.”  There is a big difference in this approach.

Where is your treasure today?  I can’t believe I missed a mission conference service!  I feel like the sickness “Providentially Hindered” me from attending on Monday.  That said, most of the time, when my treasure is not in the right place it is my personal choices and my own decisions that hinder me.  Believe me, I know we can’t be at everything the church offers, but shouldn’t I make an attempt?  At least for the Mission of the Gospel?  We have no reason for living were it not for the Gospel.  I don’t expect everyone to be at everything.  But what about your treasure?  Where is it today?  When you find your treasure – you will find where your heart truly is.

Be encouraged today to put your treasure in the right place.  Only then will your heart be in the right place.

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons for a Revival Meeting

Five Reasons For a Revival Meeting

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Psalm 85:6

We need revival.  Every Christian needs the renewal, refreshment, and revitalization of commitment, perspective, and a deeper fellowship with God. Notice this study from several years ago:

“The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago recently released its finding from the first comprehensive study of spiritual beliefs in the former Soviet Union since the fall of communism. Among the most interesting findings is the large percentage of conversions from atheism. Twenty-two percent of the population at large said they were once atheists but now believe in God. Andrew Greeley, a sociologist at the University of Chicago, wrote a report on the findings and titled it “God Is Alive and Well and Living in Moscow” Greeley said, “It would seem, at least at first glance, to demonstrate that after the most serious attempt to obliterate religion in human history, they are experiencing the most dramatic religious revival in human history.””

The word Revive (Chayah) means to “restore life, make alive.”   Some believers have been saved for a while and have and lost the fire and joy of their salvation. Some go through the motions of Christianity while drying up spiritually inside.  Others do not even go through the motions anymore.

Backsliders today were in need of revival yesterday, but tragically, they neglected it.  That does not have to be the case!  Embrace your life in Christ.  Have hope for a closer walk with God today!

Evangelist and friend, Dr. Rich Flanders identified 4 ideas that hinder Revival in his book “Back to Normal.”   He said:

  1. “Let’s define revival from history.”
  2. “Let’s improve the plan of salvation.”
  3. “Let’s not talk too much about the Holy Spirit.”
  4. “Let’s get in touch with this new generation.”

Those are definite ways to hinder revival and we could do those things purposefully – or accidentally, if we not think about it.

When Paul wrote to the local churches he expressed that, many times he found hope, encouragement, and refreshment in their testimony and steadfastness.  Their walk with Jesus renewed Paul’s joy.  If you are living in revival, you will encourage others too!

2 Corinthians 7:13 says, “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.”  Again in 2 Timothy 1:16, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:”

Evangelist Gypsy Smith, was asked what the secret of revival is. He said, “Go home. Take a piece of chalk. Draw a circle around yourself. Then pray, ‘O Lord, revive everything inside this circle.’”  Put yourself in that circle today and ask the Lord for revival in your own heart and life.

King David lost his joy.  Following his selfish sins with Bathsheba, the cover up and murder of Uriah, he confesses to God in Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  If you do not have an inner, long-lasting happiness and satisfaction in Jesus, you can have it restored in your life today – through revival.

Here are 5 areas affected by personal revival…

  1. Your Heart. Ephesians 4:23 speaks, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”

Now, my perception of self-shifts from being selfish to being Biblically accurate.  My emotions are controlled.  I am not easily offended.  Where I may have been depressed, now I am thinking of God and others.  Where I may have been discouraged, I find my self-worth in Jesus.  It could be that I was defiant to rules, authority, or leadership; now I am submissive to the Holy Spirit.  Bitterness is not allowed to take root because I deal with disappointment on a daily basis.  My anger is under the control of God.  My relationship with God is primary, and my relationship with others is prioritized.  Like Mark 12:30 says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

2. Your Hope. Philemon 1:20 encourages, “Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.”

Paul anticipated, expected refreshing, and change for better when hearing about Onesimus and Philemon.  We can have the same confident expectation of the Lord.  God can change us!  If we are not willing to admit our sin, wrong thinking, or guilt, then hope for change is diminished.  That is the beauty of confession of sin.  Sin is something that can be repented of and then a change in life and action can take root.

Sin does not need to control you – you have hope for change following confession.   I no longer need to drown in the sea of temptations, the Lord will deliver me.  Revival brings about this hope for change.

Bible hope comes from God.  Observe 2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace.”

Our hope is also in Christ.  Our hope is not money, personality, ability, or other men – our hope is found in Jesus Himself.   1 Timothy 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.”

Christians can lose hope from time to time.  We lose hope when we focus on now instead of tomorrow.   Problems can be BIG, but God is BIGGER.  Today may be terrible, but tomorrow is much better!  Don’t let fear, anxiety, and worry define your life.  Look to Jesus. Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

3. Your Help. Psalm 138:7 teaches, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

God is our help in times of trouble. II Corinthians 4:8-10 says, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”  Notice the contrast of terrible situations with the deliverance and helping hand of the Lord in those verses..

When it seems “all hope is lost” find help in Jesus.  Call out to Him.  Pray to God the Father in Jesus’ name.   Help is found in prayer.  Hebrews 4:16 emphatically states, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

4. Your Healing. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a common verse preached concerning revival. Please read it again: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Humility, praying, turning to God and turning from sin are all active parts of repentance and true revival.  We cannot be healed until the need for healing is admitted.  A relationship cannot be restored until a confession of the need of restoration is made.  A marriage cannot be mended until contrition of sin, bitterness, or resentment is expressed.  A renewal of commitment to Bible reading, prayer, church participation, and witnessing cannot be made until a confession of those things being lacking is made.  Simply put- you cannot fix what is not believed to be broken.

Let revival begin the healing process in every part of your life.

5. Your Honor. Romans 8:6-8 admonishes: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

It is possible for a Christian to live like a “dead man” for a short time.  To have a fleshly, or carnal mind is living against God and that brings about death.  Some Christians are decaying from the inside out because they have loved their sin more than Jesus.

In contrast, Life and peace come about from a life yielded to the Holy Spirit.  This is a person who is developing, and growing in the Lord and is “spiritually minded.”

If you find yourself struggling with your flesh, being quick to anger in your heart and mind, or are not able to overcome the temptation to live after your human nature, you need revival.  Come back to the first things that you learned when you were saved.  Determine with God’s help, that the renewed, refreshed life in Jesus is something that you will ask, seek, and find each day.  With all the honor of your being commit to glorify and honor the Lord.

The Wilton Baptist Church covenant is a good summary of the Christian life.  While these expectations are the goals we have committed to, there will be times that we sin, deviate from theses principles or do wrong.  It is not the letter of the law, but the spirit of the life that really counts.  I may not live up to these concepts perfectly, but “I am trying to.”  With God’s grace, have an attitude of “I will do the best I can and when I mess up, I will confess it, seek forgiveness, and keep moving forward for and with Jesus.”

“Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of our Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.”

“We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.”

“We also engage to maintain family and private devotions; to Biblically educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred, acquaintances, and all others; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful to our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from worldly amusements; to be free from all oath-bound secret societies and partnerships with unbelievers; to abstain from the use of tobacco in any form, narcotic drugs, or intoxicating drink as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.”

“We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure reconciliation without delay.”

“We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.”

When the Revival Meetings comes, the tv and media players, and cell phones are turned off, the Bible is opened, and we ask the Spirit of God to work. We put ourselves in a place to allow the Lord to work in our lives.  Time is set aside and specified for a special working of God in our lives.

These are five good reasons to have a revival meeting.  I trust you will pray and plan to be here at Wilton Baptist for our revival meetings. Discover the HOPE and Christian life that God has for you at revival meeting.

Outside of the Apostle Paul and Jesus Himself, some preachers would say that C.H. Spurgeon was the greatest preacher who ever lived.  He said: “A genuine revival without joy in the Lord is as impossible as spring without flowers, or day-dawn without light.”

What a good thought.  Find the joy of your salvation.  Discover the hope that revival brings.  Develop the attitude and mind of Christ that spiritual renewal brings with it.

The Real Heroes of October

The Real Heroes of October

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  2 Timothy 4:2

Do you look forward to the World Series of Major League Baseball each October?  I do.  I enjoyed the first game between the Mets and Royals recently.  14 innings!  Wow!  Playing past the regular season, the “Boys of Summer” try to get their team into position to play baseball in the postseason called the playoffs.  Then the National League Champion will play the American League Champion to determine the World Champion in the World Series.

Baseball great Reggie Jackson was known as Mr. October.  When a team is advancing and still playing baseball into the month of October you know they are a good team.  There will be another MVP this year and one team will walk away the winners, the heroes of the baseball world.

Between both the Mets and Royals, there are many players I am not familiar with.  There are some new names on both teams.  No matter how long a player has played on his team, as a team member – he is committed to the same task – win the next game.  No matter what path he took to get to the majors, he is still accepted on his team as a vital asset towards winning.

There are other heroes in October, some of which we will never hear about.  They are the pastors, faithfully feeding the flock of God in their local fields.  However God called them and wherever they are serving, they are on the same team as I am – the Gospel Team.

In independent Baptist churches such as the one I pastor, we may not be familiar with pastors in other parts of the country.  We are not isolated, but we are just too far away to know each other.  There are pastors, missionaries and evangelists boldly declaring God’s Word and we may never know them on this side of Heaven.  We are on the same team – giving out the Gospel.  I am thankful for each team player.

The churches they preach in vary in size; some with 50, 250 or over 2000 members attending weekly services.  Some pastors and their churches are well-known, others are not.  All these pastors are known to those they minister to as being passionate about Jesus and His Holy Word.

Some churches will say “thank-you” in a public display.  Others churches are comprised of individuals who behind the scenes say “thank-you.”  However this is accomplished, it should be clear to the pastor that the church is blessed with his effort to serve the Lord and minister to them.  The real heroes of October are the pastors.  They are the ones ready to “preach the Word in Season or out of Season.”

Some folks have set aside October as a month to strategically say “Thank-you.”  Someone once aptly said that “What gets scheduled is what gets done.”  It is true that our human nature is to forget.  We may forget the impact 1 message had on our home.  We may neglect to give a testimony of how a message fed to the congregation met a specific need in your soul.  Sometimes a pastor is preaching on a totally other subject, but the Bible passage God directed him to, challenges and changes your life.  If we do not mark something good on a calendar, it just may not happen.

According to Thrivingpastor.com, pastor or clergy appreciation has been “over the centuries, decades and years, pastors have been recognized and honored, either formally or informally, by many denominations and local churches at various times of the year. It has been a long-standing practice.”  They refer to the I Timothy 5:17 as pastors preaching the Word should receive “double honor” as the precedent for this special recognition.

As you watch the closing games of this baseball season, be reminded of the real heroes of October.  The unsung heroes are those faithfully preaching the Word.  While you may not know all of them – take a moment to encourage those you do know.  Say “thank-you” in some way this week.

The Calling of God on Your Life

The Calling of God on Your Life

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God… 1 Corinthians 1:1

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“What am I supposed to do with my life?” is a question everyone will ask at some point in their life.  The Lord can answer that question for you!  Every Christian has a calling on their life.  The Lord desires for each Christian to dedicate their life to serve Him.  Romans 12:1-2 speak about this dedication.  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”   

As we read the first verse of I Corinthians, we learn that Paul was called to be an Apostle.  Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Paul met Jesus while he was on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus.  His name was Saul at the time, but when he met Jesus, his life was changed, his name was changed, and he then begins to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with his life, answering the call to be an apostle.  Today, there are no eyewitnesses to the life of Christ, so there can be no apostles.  However, you can be a disciple of Christ.  You could become a pastor, missionary, evangelist, teacher, or a deacon.  At some point this year, the Lord may show you His calling for your life.  Have you found the will of God yet?  All of us as believers are Disciples of Christ: The Lord calls Christians to be school teachers, engineers, mechanics, and airplane pilots.  Kent  Hughes tells the following missionary story:

“A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her. In the afternoon, just before school let out, she made her way to the front door. As the boys came out when school was dismissed, she would stop one and ask if he knew how to read French. When he said “Yes” she would ask him to read the verse that was marked in red. Then she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and tell him about Christ. The missionary said that twenty-four of the school boys that lady led to the Lord became pastors.”  All of us can serve God in some meaningful way!

In addition to everyday disciples, the Lord also calls preachers and missionaries.   It could be at summer Bible camp.  It could happen at mission conference, revival meeting, or church service – the Lord could show you His calling for your life.  What will you do?  Will you follow His will?  Jonah, the Old Testament preacher to Nineveh, ran the other way when God showed him His calling for his life.  Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  You don’t have to be like Jonah, be like Paul and answer the call to serve the Lord, fulfilling His will in His life.  We may call this “Responding to the Call.”   Pray about what the Lord will have you do with your life.  Sports, entertainment, and other activities can be good, but they can also pull you away from the will of the Lord.  A girlfriend or boyfriend, or a relationship can be good, but make sure you respond to God’s call first.  Making money and holding down a job can be fine, but make sure that you respond to God’s call to serve Him in whatever service is His will for your life.

Another important part of God’s calling on our lives is Recognition of God’s Call to MinistryThe Bibles says in I Timothy 1:12, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…”  After the Lord called Paul to Ministry, the calling was confirmed in Paul’s life by three things.  They were the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God.  Whenever the Lord calls people into ministry today, all three affirmations are still needed.  I have met people that do now know how the Lord called them to serve in a particular way.  I have also met Christians who say, they do not care about what other Christians say about their calling.  Attitudes like this can be dangerous.  There have been many cults and heretical teachings that develop with people reacting this way.  If you feel called to “vocational ministry” check for these three:

The Word of God is the first way to know God’s call.  Paul had a burning desire to “preach the Word.”  He had a love for the Bible and an intense desire to see people saved and churches established.  This calling of the Word never contradicts the Bible in method or practice and Paul met all the qualifications to enter into full-time vocational ministry.  Be sure to read the Pastoral Epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus to see the Bible’s qualifications for ministers.  Secondly, the Spirit of God is given to us to direct and guide us.  Acts 1:8 tell us that the Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses.  You may have a quiet spirit, but the Lord can embolden you and every Christian to tell others about Christ.  The Spirit of God will direct those called to say “yes” to the call.  Finally, there are the People of God.  I have known some believers that want to enter full-time ministry, but their church will not recognize them as a pastor or missionary.  Perhaps they have doctrinal error they hold to.  Perhaps their personality choices come across brash or unkind.  Maybe they are gossipers or rebellious to authority.  Perhaps they have not yet received proper ministry training.  A Bible based church would not recognize a call unless these matters are cleared up.  The people of God recognize and re-affirm God’s call on a Bible qualified candidate for ministry, who is Spirit led and Spirit filled.  This can be done in an Ordination service.  If you ever have the chance to attend an Ordination Council and service, I hope that you take advantage of that.  You will learn much Bible doctrine if you attend, and you will also see the recognition of God’s people on a man for the Lord.  It takes Paul about 8 years after his conversion to Christianity that we know him as the “Apostle Paul.”  Consider this:  In Acts 9 we find Paul meeting Christ and being saved.  Galatians 1:17-18, Paul tells us what he did after being saved:  “Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”   Paul took time away from everyone to meet with the Lord and to study.  We look at this time as preparation for Gospel Ministry.  He was a man who knew the Hebrew Bible better than most, and now he was going to be used of the Lord to preach and even write parts of the New Testament.   (By the way, an important note to make for today is preparation for ministry.  Bible College takes about four years.  Teacher training takes at least four years.)  Even with three years passing, some people still doubted Paul was for real.  Some of the local church leaders still thought of Paul as “Saul the Persecutor.”   With the help of Barnabas, church leaders start to see Paul as a servant of the Lord.  In Acts 9:29-30, Barnabas introduces Paul to the church in Jerusalem.  They listen to Paul, but are not ready to work with him yet.  They send him to his hometown of Tarsus.  Paul stays there for five more years after which Barnabas, who is preaching in Antioch, sends for Paul to have Paul help him minister the Word (Acts 11:25-26).  It was while Paul started his ministry with Barnabas that the believers in Antioch were first called “Christians.”   It took eight years for Paul to be recognized by others in the ministry.  After this, we find Paul in active ministry: traveling, establishing churches, preaching messages, and sending letters to the churches.

Paul had the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God confirm the calling of God on his life.   A life in ministry without these three affirmations will be difficult and will probably not last very long.  Be patient, serve the Lord and grow in the opportunities that open up to you.  Avoid forcing yourself into a position your pastor or other spiritual leaders know that you are not prepared for…yet.

If you are not called to ministry, that is OK too.  Be sure that you support your church leaders and support those who are in vocational ministry.  Your service in helping ministers is important!  I heard Evangelist Byron Foxx say: “Every Christian should either be a preacher or be helping a preacher.”  Those that are not preachers should be helping their preacher in advancing the Gospel.  

Are you called to ministry?  Do you have these three affirmations in your life?  At this point in my life, I have been preaching for around 15 years.  I remember the moments in my life when I saw these affirmations for ministry calling.  I am like Paul in saying, that I am thankful the Lord has called me to ministry.  Seek the will of the Lord, and God will show you His will.  When He does show you, follow it with all of your heart!