Thursday, July 28, 2011

Praying & Going

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

During our prayer meeting last night we made it a priority to pray for our friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers who don't follow Jesus. We have the opportunity to pray for people in our lives to see God give them salvation. Let's be a church that prays for God to do extraordinary things in peoples lives. As we pray for those in our lives let's look for opportunities to share the Gospel with them and share God's love with them. We do care about their eternal destiny, but we also care about their needs now. Be attentive for things that you can do to show God's love to others. Pray for opportunities today to share the Gospel today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where does this race end?

In our Christian lives we often feel greatly motivated after a worship service. We loved the songs and sung out loud despite being off pitch. The sermon was convicting and moved you to new decisions for Lord. However, just a few hours after worship, the fresh conviction wanes and no longer has an impact on our thought process, planning, and desire for the Lord.
Listen to the author of Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God, Heb. 12:1-2.

How can we keep the Gospel at the forefront of our lives in order to continue with the endurance we need? We have to keep Jesus at the front of our lives. Concentrate on the Gospel today in order to continue with endurance with joy.

I made it home yesterday after a rough four miles. It was storming and the temperature felt drastically hotter. I knew I wanted to make it home. I kept it in view knowing the air conditioner and cold water that awaited me. Reflect on the joy that Jesus Christ has for us to persevere through the difficult times that you experience.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Orphan Care

Last night we continued our mini-series on Orphan Care. Orphan care isn't only for couples who adopt, nor is it only for a fringe section of well meaning Christians. It's for all those who live a life of faith in Christ. Our life is characterized by a desire for God's glory over our desire for comfort and conformity. Following Christ means we live advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and caring for the needy. Following Christ means caring for the orphan because we were once spiritual orphans ourselves. In Genesis God promised Abraham that He would give Abraham a son, make his family into a nation as numerous as the stars in the sky, and bless all the nations through him. This promise could not come to fruition by Abraham's own power. He and his wife were nearly 100 years old and Sarah was barren. God provided a miracle in Sarah's dead womb, and they had a son, Isaac. God's promise still had to continue through Abraham's son, Isaac, but Isaac and his wife were faced with the same reality of infertility as Abraham and Sarah. They could not make the promise happen through their own power either. God miraculously intervened in their marriage as well. Their son Jacob was the testimony that God was delivering His promise to Abraham, but Jacob and his wife Rachel struggled with infertility like his father and grandfather. God continued to show His faithfulness to His promise and provided a miracle son in a barren womb. None of these men could make the promise happen on their own. God set His love on Israel and made this nation His son. At the end Genesis and beginning of Exodus, this nation is in captivity in Egypt. God redeems His son out of slavery to freedom in their own land that He provides for them.

In Galatians 3-4, Paul interprets these events in light of our adoption, our salvation. God redeemed us as sinners from the "elementary principles of this world" to heirs of the covenant. We are now sons! Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us out of sin's captivity and into the family of God. The good news of the Gospel isn't simply the forgiveness of sins, it's that we are saved from our sin, given righteousness, and made a son of God! For the women wondering if Scripture includes them, you can rest assured in the promises of God that you too receive the same inheritance as a first born son (Gal. 3:28). Our Father is a loving God that gives over and abundantly to ALL of His children.

Since we understand our salvation through adoption, the church does care for orphans. Read through Gal. 3:23-4:7 today and consider how loving our Father's is to us, His children. Please pray for opportunities for Gracepointe to become involved in orphan care in St. Augustine and around the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death, Rom. 8:1-2

Our salvation removes any condemnation for us and brings us into freedom in Christ Jesus. Everyday we need to recall this part of the Gospel. God has brought us into His family by giving us a new heart. There isn't anyone or anything to bring an accusation against us. We are forgiven and free! Praise the Lord for His grace to us. All of us who understand our salvation realize the gravity of our sin before the Lord. Since we realize how disgusting our sin is before a holy God, we celebrate how amazing and awesome His rich mercy and grace is toward us. Obedience to the Father isn't a difficult task that we feel forced or joyless to follow because we are liberated out of our crushing guilt and shame. God has called us to freedom in Christ, in the family of God. If you are in Christ, reflect today on the verses listed above on the mercy and grace that God has lavished over you in Christ. Write them down or commit them to memory. Diligently focus on these verses today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Building Together

Get a glimpse of the work going on when Nehemiah leads people to rebuild Jerusalem:
Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah repaired the Gate of Yeshanah. They laid its beams and set its doors, its bolts, and its bars. [7] And next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah, the seat of the governor of the province Beyond the River. [8] Next to them Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths, repaired. Next to him Hananiah, one of the perfumers, repaired, and they restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. [9] Next to them Rephaiah the son of Hur, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired. [10] Next to them Jedaiah the son of Harumaph repaired opposite his house. And next to him Hattush the son of Hashabneiah repaired. [11] Malchijah the son of Harim and Hasshub the son of Pahath-moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. [12] Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters. Nehemiah 3:6-13

Nehemiah heard the report from those remaining in Judah that everyone who survived the exile was in great trouble and shame. The wall was broken down and the gates were destroyed by fire. His heart sank with this news. Nehemiah was driven to prayer and fasting for the sake the Lord’s covenant with His people. God provided Nehemiah the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall and the gates.
It wasn’t an easy task. All over the city charred remains lay on the ground and the rubble was everywhere. It took a great effort by everyone there to continue the grueling work of picking up stone after stone to clean up and rebuild.
Through God’s provision and Nehemiah’s leadership the people accomplished a monumental achievement. Despite the circumstances, the hostility from outsiders, the inward conflict, the wall and city gates were rebuilt! It required everyone to work together and continue to work through the opposition.
Today God has not called us to build a wall, and He’s not called us to build His church either. However, God does use us in His church. We share the Gospel, serve those inside and outside the church, and encourage each other. Consider your role in the church. How is your faith evident in your relationships with others at Gracepointe? How are you fulfilling the work that God has called you to?

Monday, July 18, 2011

God Saves the Orphan

We began a new series last night from Galatians - God Saves the Orphans - Looking at Orphan Care. True, we are a small church, and there are more than 147 million orphans worldwide. The amazing thing about being God's church is that He calls us to extraordinary tasks that result in His glory! What God has called us to as His people IS NOT something that we relegate to one hour on Sunday or the week we’re scheduled to go on a short term mission trip. God has saved us out of our sin and into His glorious grace. Our whole lives must be about God’s glory!

Salvation is more than the forgiveness of sins. It’s more than redemption. It’s more than not going to hell. It’s more than receiving eternal life. Gospel presentations can be distorted to lead people to believe eternal life is based on ONE PRAYER. Let me read to you what Scripture does not say:

If anyone wants to follow me, let him pray a one time prayer asking for forgiveness sins.

The rich young ruler asked Jesus what good thing must he do to obtain eternal life. After the rich man responded to Jesus that he had kept ALL the commandments, he wondered what he was still lacking. Jesus told him that if he wanted to be complete simply repeat after him a prayer.

Obviously that’s not what Scripture says. Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take us his cross and follow me," Matt. 16.24. He told the rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Then come and follow Him, Matt. 19:16-21. Salvation isn’t a one time event that secures your destiny regardless of your affections or pursuits after you repeat a prayer.

Many of you are following Jesus because you understand that faith in Christ makes a lifelong disciple. Our church is a church that will follow Jesus’ call to make other disciples and be involved in orphan care. I understand the Great Commission, but where does the Bible say that the church is mandated to care for orphans? It’s all over Scripture. Take time today to read through Scripture: Deut. 10:18-19, 24:17-19, 27:19a, Ex. 22:21-22, Ps. 10:17-18, Ps. 113:5-7, Ps. 146:9, Hos. 14:3, James 1:27

We want to be a church that lives out our salvation and cares for those in need. Let's begin to consider how our church can be involved in orphan care.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Praying as a First Priority

. . . If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land" 2 Chron. 7:14

On Wednesday nights we meet for prayer. Lloyd leads us in prayer for our missionaries and various prayer requests we have within the church. Over the past few weeks I have been teaching through Paul's prayers. However, the most recent two prayer meetings have involved more collective praying. Last night we looked at the Lord's appearance to Solomon after the dedication of the temple found in 2 Chronicles 7:11-22. Prayer is often said as a last resource or the only option available since there's nothing we can do on our own to work out the problem. Prayer meeting is downplayed to one of those church activities that we really don't have to attend. After all, it's only a prayer meeting. This attitude is one of a pagan idol worshiper instead of a child of God.

Praying together joins us in a spiritual bond that unites us in our pursuit of seeking the Lord's will. We want to see God glorified by saving people, changing lives, and intervening in supernatural ways. If we truly want to be a church that makes a difference in people's lives, we have to pray for the lost, pray for specific ways we can serve the community, pray for God to use us, as well as pray for God to help us with our needs. There is much more prayer who loves people as opposed to a church who wants to see growth. The first step for Gracepointe Baptist Church is to pray together for those whom we will reach with the Gospel. Take some time today to pray for your lost friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors to want Jesus. Pray for the unity of our church body. Pray that God will be praised for the work that He's doing in us.