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Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

The leaves are falling.  Soon the snow will be flying.  Before long, the grass will shove through the earth and the flowers will blossom.  The heat of summer will emerge, and the fall will be here before we know it.  Seasons make the year interesting.  Just as with the seasons and natural progression of hot and cold that God established, the Christian life and God’s church also goes through changes.

Change is something that human nature is resistant to.  We get comfortable.  We become accustomed.  What is “Normal” is what we have known to this specific point in our lives.  We can arrive at “new normal” when we willingly adjust our expectations.

Change in the Bible is good.  If you are a Christian, the specific moment you trusted Jesus for salvation, a big change took place.  You passed from “death unto life!” In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

Change for the Christian is good. For example: we are to be “transformed” (Changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds in Romans 12:1-2.

The Christian is to be continually changing to look more like Jesus.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul teaches, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Change is good.  Individual Christians are changing to look more like Jesus.  Churches also go through changes.  One preacher aptly stated: “Churches are always in transition.”  Very true.

A local church cannot remain stagnant.  A church must strive to be vibrant, meeting the edification needs for its members and the evangelism needs of its community.

Here are three areas a church can benefit from change:

  1. A renewed spirit of unity. We are to strive together to fulfill the Great Commission. We are unified by Christ around the Gospel.  Philippians 1:27, commands, “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Perhaps this humorous story will help: “Intending to raise cattle, a family from New York bought a ranch out West. When their friends visited and inquired about the ranch’s name, the would be rancher replied: “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one of our sons wanted the Flying-W, and the other liked the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the BAr-J-Suzy-Q-Flying-W-Lazy-Y.”

“But where are all your cattle?” the friends asked.

“None survived the branding.””

There are casualties in a church when the members are not united around the main thing. Don’t be distracted in your service to the Lord!  Preferences, nuances, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” And personality issues should not divert your attention.  Keep serving Jesus.  Stay united to the cause of Christ and do not allow side issues to get your eyes off Jesus.

  1. A restored community of trust. Paul’s ministry even encountered seasons of disunity and discouragement.  When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, some of the believers were divided.  Read 1 Corinthians 1 for more details.  Some liked Paul’s preaching, others preferred Apollos (A great orator), and others enjoyed the passion of Peter.  The division was causing problems in the church.

Paul makes a hasty trip to Corinth in between these letters to try to resolve their issues.

Later, in 2 Corinthians, we find Paul sending another letter, not to elevate himself, but to elevate Jesus and help the people start to trust God again.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5 says, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles (letters) of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”

The church belongs to Jesus.  He purchased her with His own blood.  We can trust the church to God.  Jesus can overcome any doctrinal, personal, or preferential problems a church may face.  Paul knew that he was not sufficient to solve the division, but Jesus was (and is) sufficient.   Paul was not boasting in his ability, but in the fact that these Christians had started to yield their sin, personalities, and problems to the Lord and God healed their church.  Jesus said: “I will build my church.”  We can trust Him!

  1. A revived attitude of respect. 1 Thessalonians 5:12 instructs, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”

Pastors are not dictators.  If pastors were dictators, then no church member would ever miss a service, and no one would ever not bring their tithe to church, and members would bring Snickers candy bars to every church function. Lol… if you like.  The role of pastor is that of “Servant – Leader.”  It is an accurate and healthy description.

Pastors are to be gentle shepherds leading and feeding the flock.  Sometimes that includes protecting the sheep from wolves (in sheep’s clothing), false doctrine (bad spiritual food to eat), and dangerous pasture fields (emergent church models).

There should be a mutual respect among the members of a congregation for one another.  Church members should be trusting the deacons.  Church members and deacons should have an attitude of trust with the pastoral staff as well.

One service I was preaching through this passage in 1 Thessalonians 5, and suggested that it helps the pastor of the church when the church members are not fighting or bickering and that when a church was at peace, the true work of the ministry can thrive.  It is a true thought.

A thoughtful man, a genuine student of the Bible, suggested to me that the peace among the members was also connected to their respect or lack of respect for the pastor.  Read that verse again please.

“Esteem” means to “deem, consider, or count.”  A faithful church member must be able to count the pastor as respectful and worthy or he will not be able to learn, grow, or develop in that church.  A result of disrespect is that the pastor is not able to lead as effectively as he should.  Why can he not lead effectively?  Because of the lack of peace.  A pastor constantly putting out fires cannot commit the time called for – for the actual work of the ministry.  It could look like this old saying: “Too many chiefs – not enough Indians.”  Let the pastor be the “Servant – Leader” overseeing the overall work of the church.

These are 3 examples where change is good!  If these areas are lacking – Change!  Change to the glory of God.

  • Are you united with your church family in the purpose of the Gospel?
  • Do you have an attitude of trust for the other members, deacons, and pastoral staff?
  • Is there a mutual respect that you have for the church leadership that creates a peaceful environment?

Change is good.  Christians as well as churches go through “Seasons of change.”  Transitions and changes are sometimes difficult and even turbulent because human nature does not like change; but when we see Jesus – it will be worth it all.  When we make the needed adjustments as individuals and as a church, the Lord is glorified.

And. His. Work. Will. Continue.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Who are You a Companion To?

Who are You a Companion To?

I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.  Psalms 119:63

Have you ever met a person who said they “had no friends?”  Have you ever felt lonely thinking that others do not care about you?  Sometimes we can become depressed and discouraged when we approach relationship with the “They” and “I” perspective.  It may really be that instead of others being interested in you, you have not been interested in others.

As my family and I were reading this verse today, I was prompted to write down the following thoughts that may be a help to you and your relationships today.

Instead of asking “who are my friends” I should ask “Who am I friends with?”  One is egocentric, the other is others centric.  Self-centeredness has captivated many relationships throughout history.  You are in good company if you have thought this way, but you can change for the better today!

Be Proactive Relationally.  As the Psalmist pens Psalm 119, he gives great insight to the “direction” our relationships should focus.  Instead of saying “They are my companions” he said “I am their companion.”  This makes a world of difference!  He was looking for being friends with people who loved the Lord.  He was not letting the relationships come looking for him, he was proactive.

I have known people that say “No-one is my friend at church.”  A casual observation in nearly every case this is stated is that the person saying it is not proactive in his relationships.  If one sits in a corner and expects people to find him, his relational appearance portrays that he is not interested in relationships.  If the same man would walk around to people, actively greet old and new friends, then he would develop closer ties to people.  Proverbs 18:24 is still true: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.”

Be Persistent Relationally.  The Psalmist is reaching out to people who fear God.  He wanted to be around people who loved the One True God.  What a blessing we have to be active in local Bible believing churches!  We can have friends who love the Lord too.  A man may say that he is lonely, but if he comes to the service 5 minutes late and leaves the service 5 minutes early, he is not giving friendships a chance to develop.  Relationships must be persistently pursued by spending time with others.

I have known individuals and families that come late and leave early and wonder why they have no connections with people in the church.  It is because they are unavailable to others.  Friendships should not be based solely on vocation, education, affluence, or personalities.  Friendships are based on love, value, and time shared.  The Psalmist was available. He put himself in a position to spend time with others that feared the Lord.

Encarta says the word “companion” means “somebody who shares time with another.”  Who are you a companion to today?  Don’t let others look for friendship with you – you look for friendships with them.  See if this does not help your emotions, demeanor, perspective and service to the Lord.  I believe it will help.  Don’t ask; “Who Are my friends?” instead ask; “Who am I a companion to? Who am I a friend to?”