Observing Details

“Observing Details”

It is hard to believe how fast 2015 has gotten underway, where does the time go?  Some of you might have made a New Year’s resolution. A few of you might just be keeping one. Statistics tell us that the majority of people break one midway through the first month. This year rather than make a new year’s resolution, I decided to come up with a theme for the year. It is less stringent than to have a “to do list”; it keeps me focused and hopefully will be a beneficial exercise.  My idea was to pick a word or concept that I wanted to achieve. So if you have already broken your promise or want to try something different, you can join me by either picking your own word, title, or go along with mine. 

 

This year I picked OBSERVING DETAILS. What exactly does that mean?  If you believe God is in control of everything and nothing goes unnoticed without Him, then His handiwork should be evident everywhere. My challenge is to not only observe the details of His work, but thank Him as I see Him move in situations big and small. A few of us men meet each week, read the Scriptures, and pick out a verse that means something to us. We started the year with the first chapter of the book of Matthew. It starts out like this: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Then it proceeds until Matthew 1:18 with everyone that begat, (had children) and the names of the head of each family. It is not a very easy passage to make comments about. So if OBSERVING DETAILS is my theme, what can be learned from this passage?  Let’s dig in, have some fun, and see.  

 

To begin with, three names are mentioned in the first verse, Jesus Christ, David and Abraham. One might observe that these three names are a key to the book of Matthew; “The Genealogy of Jesus Christ.” The first 16 verses give us a long list of the heads of households, and give us their specific names. Then verse 17 gives us a summary.  “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.”

 

We could explore a lot more from this first chapter, but let’s keep it simple and just try and see a few things that we could easily gloss over if we weren’t trying to OBSERVE DETAILS. To begin with, other that Jesus Christ, two of the names that stand out in the very first verse are David and Abraham. One can read a lot about each of these two men in the Old Testament. The book of Matthew is the first book of the New Testament. So an easy observation is that some of the names mentioned are in both places. So if you are reading this article and have believed only the Old Testament is a valid Scripture, you might think again. I believe just these two names show us there is reason to learn more about the New Testament and try and see how they might connect. It might be worthy of our exploration.

 

The next thing I pick up in my OBSERVING DETAILS that God felt it worthy to name the heads of each household under both Abraham and David. So God is interested in details and He takes an interest in everyone He has created. He did not mention each of the women and children because if He had we would have several chapters of just names, but He knows who they are and they are equally important to Him. After the names are mentioned, He starts with, “Now the birth of Jesus” in verse 18. So, is Jesus mentioned in the Old Testament? Not specifically by name, but Isaiah7:14 and Matthew 1:22 and 23 are clearly tied together. In the Old Testament Isaiah tells us, “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold,the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Then in Matthew we read, “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’”   

 

In Matthew 1:24 and 25, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.” “Isaiah 9:6 and 7 gives us a clear picture (written 700 years before the event) if we are open to OBSERVING DETAILS. “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

 

Some of the above verses are quoted around Christmas time. Is that not behind us? On the calendar that’s true, but the birth and life of Jesus should not be remembered as a small part of history. If it has a significant meaning, then it should have a year round place in our hearts and impact our lives on a daily basis. We long for peace in the world so why don’t we have it? God has not taken control of all the governments just yet. Someday, (Many Bible scholars think the Lord will not allow our sin and apathy against Him continue much longer) He will return. This is the hope one has that has placed their trust in Jesus Christ, has repented of their sin, and accepted Him only as their Lord and Savior; He will return and take them to heaven where there will be everlasting peace. Although we look around and think God may have lost control, He hasn’t. It is just not in His time line for this very moment. He can see from eternity past to eternity in the future. He’s not caught by surprise or is unaware of what to do during this present time period. Psalms 2:1-5, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us. He who sits in the Heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision.”  In other words; God is not bothered by what men try to do to conquer the world. In His time each of them will crumple under His wrath and judgment. The last chapter, in His time table, isn’t written yet.   

 

Back to Isaiah 9:8, the passage refers to the throne of David. In Verses 6 and 7 it talks about Jesus birth and then peace, so how does all of this tie together? Let me answer that by asking if you have ever wondered why Israel does not have a King?  For a long time they were being led by God, but they wanted a king like other nations. So God let them pick one. Their first choice was Saul. He looked like the ideal man because of his appearance and mannerism. Yet he wanted to do things his own way rather that follow God’s leading, so his Kingdom was cut short. Then along came David. God tells us in Acts 13:22 and 23, “…I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will. From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior — Jesus.”    

 

Then after the death of Solomon, the nation was divided into two kingdoms. Israel disappeared as a nation and they were taken into captivity. Under the rule of their enemies, they were placed in bondage. That’s why the summary of the key names found in Matthew 1:17 are divided before and after their nation’s captivity. History tells us of the death of David and Abraham as well as Jesus Christ.  But there is a difference in that Christ had risen from the dead and the Bible tells of His past, present and future plans.

 

 Due to the bondage and suffering, many of the Israelites became bitter towards God. Their hearts became hardened and so even though their nation was considered God’s chosen people, He offered salvation to the Gentiles. John 1:10-13, are verses that show us God’s heart, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  

 

In spite of their rejection of a Savior, He made them become a nation once again in 1948. Now many all over the world have felt led to return to Israel once again. The real battle that is taking place today is between good and evil. It’s a battle between Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the Messiah, and Satan and his followers. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then it is clear what is taking place in the Middle East, if not, you are probably quite confused and wonder why so much of the world’s attention is placed on Israel, which is such a small nation. 

 

Will things ever get better for Israel?  That’s a great question and I wish we had the time and space to answer much of that. One can go online and purchase six DVDs entitled, “Against All Odds, Israel Survives.”  It covers many situations that based on their own strength; they wouldn’t have won those battles. It covers what they went through in 1948, the six day war in 1967, and interviews those who were there and were eye-witnesses to those events. Then if you are inclined to read future events that are prophesied to take place, below is a list of references that will shed more light on what is expected to happen. The world is moving so fast these days that we need to stay alert and be ready to meet the Lord at any time. His message is clearly in the Holy Bible.

 

There are many Bible references just in Matthew alone about the return of Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:27, Chapter 24:4 and 5, 11, 23-27, 30, 31, 36, 40-44. Chapters 25:1-13, 31-46. The next book is Mark, a reference is made in Mark 8:38, then in Luke 12:37-40, chapter 17:28-30, chapter 21:34-36; and then in John 14:1-3. Your eternal destiny depends upon reading and learning about these things. Once you get this settled, you will have a peace that can’t be compared to anything else this world has to offer.   

 

If you care to learn more we welcome you to visit us at Gateway Baptist Church. Thank you for reading this.



What’s The Hurry?

WHAT’S THE HURRY?  

 Unless you are running a marathon, no one has to draw you a line, fire a gun and say, “READY, SET, GO!”  If you’re like me, as you are dashing out the door, you might hear something like this, “Don’t forget your lunch.”  Now I’m sure I’m the only one that has made this mistake; I was on my way to meet someone off of Interstate 80. I chose to stop and get a cup of coffee.  As I got back on, I was fumbling around with some papers beside me.  I looked out the window and realized I had just passed that scenery a few minutes before. The mile marker numbers were also going down instead of up. Yes, I was heading west when I needed to go east.  That little 5-mile mistake actually turned out to be 10.  So as the saying goes, “The faster I go, the behinder I get.”          

 If you were privileged to be born in America or was raised here, no one ever had to teach you how to be in a hurry; it just happens naturally. I often thought the folks on the other side of the world took our name.  They are called RUSSIANS, but we are the ones that are always RUSH-IN.  That’s not to say that other cultures aren’t doing the same thing.  China is changing rapidly, especially in the larger cities.  They are living a fast-paced life.  America has accomplished a lot and I’m thankful for much of what we have now.  Still no one can deny that we have misplaced many of our values.  Being in hurry is not one of our strengths.  

 So how can we live life differently today if we really want to?  Remember the story of the Tortoise (Turtle) and the Hare (Rabbit)?  The Hare leaves the Tortoise behind.  He thinks he has all the time in the world to win a race. So he, being faster by nature, and confident of running, takes a nap midway through the race.  When he awakes he finds his competitor, the Tortoise, who was crawling slowly, but steadily had arrived before him and won the race.  Sometimes all of our busyness actually puts us behind and causes us to be further away from where we should be in life.  Some of the causes might be we are asleep when we should be awake and listening attentively.

 Pilgrims Progress was written by John Bunyan in the 17th century. He was a young preacher under 30 years of age that was imprisoned simply for preaching the Gospel.  As he languished in a cold Bedford, England jail for 12 years, he penned Pilgrim’s Progress and many other books.  The main character in the book, and now dramatized on CD is Christian. Christian was on a journey planning to get to the Celestial City. Although he meant well, he often times got off the trail and into dangerous circumstances.  It’s easy to get off track and lose focus of the destination.  I often ask myself if I am on the trail I need to be on or have I found something more interesting down another path.

 Most of the time we need to wait rather that plunge ahead. A few years back when Real Estate values weren’t so unpredictable and there was money to be made in buying, renovating and reselling homes, I had a good friend who knew the ins and outs of each property I was considering buying.  Frank would meet me at a place and spend 20 minutes or more just analyzing the needed work.  He didn’t say a word or write anything down.  That was a nervous time for me, but a relaxed time for him.  Being older and wiser, Frank would look at every aspect of the home from the foundation to the roof. When he finished he would tell me everything that should be done with repairs, estimated the time and cost to do the project.  Of course I wanted him to talk and discuss it with me right away rather than what I perceived was his just walking around.   One day, when I asked, he told me the most important part of any job is to evaluate and figure things out before you start.  I’m convinced he was right.  Too many times I should have waited, prayed, and sought God’s will, instead of moving ahead by my own impulse.

 Our strength comes by waiting on the Lord.  Isaiah 40:31,“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Psalms 27:14, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

 The waiting helps us to keep a level head and gives us time to think about God’s clear direction.  Otherwise we might be making some costly mistakes.  Some of these can affect a marriage as well as our finances if we act in haste.   

Proverbs 28: 20, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.”

  We hope you will visit us at Gateway Baptist Church in Loveland over this coming Christmas season. We believe you will benefit like I have in learning more about life, our role in it, and how we can learn to make decisions more clearly from God’s perspective.   

 



Totally Focused

TOTALLY FOCUSED

 

An e-mail copy was sent to me concerning Jesus’ actions. One asked the other if he thought Jesus was a pacifist. I wasn’t asked to reply, but this question has been on my mind for several days and it motivated me to dig a little deeper into the Scriptures in order to come up with an adequate answer. The question was posed right after two Americans were beheaded; a news reporter James Foley, whose death took place overseas, and a woman living in Oklahoma. As I pondered over the question I believe they were wondering how Jesus would have reacted today knowing the news of these two American people.

 

It’s easy to come up with a quick response and a surface answer. It takes more work to try and think like Jesus instead of what we would do. The big question for me is can I begin to think like Jesus or put myself in His position. On my own, the answer would clearly be no, but does the Word of God give us some insight?  Do we have some clues? The only way to know is to start digging for Biblical answers. It will be a challenge, but will help us understand a little more about Jesus thoughts and it could possibly be a model for how we might respond in similar situations. It’s certainly worth the effort and study if we are looking for truth.

 

To begin a topic such as this requires pulling up several Scriptures available that would give us a basis or groundwork for this study. The first verse that popped in my head was John 8:31 and 32. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide (continue) in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” If we follow Jesus and the truth He was sharing, not only with the Jews, but to anyone that believes in Him, we should be able to find out the truth as to what He was saying and doing here on earth. We can then determine if He was a pacifist or an activist.

 

A verse most new Christians learn and one that’s worth memorizing is John 3:16, “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  Once we grasp that truth, the Bible begins to unfold into Jesus purpose, as well as what our purpose in life should be. Even though we may be familiar with John 3:16, the following verse John 3:17, clarifies His focus even more.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” More than anyone the Jews was looking for a Messiah that would condemn the behavior of the Romans who were oppressing them; yet it appeared Jesus played right into their hands. Was His apparent passivity an indicator that He was indifferent, apathetic, or lacked enthusiasm for the Jewish people or for mankind in general that were suffering?  Carrying that though even deeper, did He not care for His own well-being?

 

There is no indicator that shows He was indifferent to people. His many miracles are proof enough to show He had compassion for others. We know of the ones found in the Bible, but He went far beyond what we have on record. John 20:30 and 31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Take time to reread that verse. His purpose for the miracles was to reveal to us and the world that He wasn’t just a man, but the Savior Himself, and by believing you will have everlasting life as is expressed in John 3:16.

 

I’m sure the Jews in that day, as well as many of us today, are looking for a quick fix. Jesus saw the sinful cancer within their lives. By healing the body without the soul is not much different than a doctor placing a bandage on outside bleeding while knowing his patient is bleeding internally. It’s like waxing a car, and putting air in the tires while all the time knowing the engine doesn’t run. The quick fix for the Jews was to have Jesus stop the oppression of the Roman Empire, but few of them were willing to let Him cleanse their hearts which resulted in their failure to accept Him as their Messiah. They were looking for a King. Jesus Christ will be the King to those that have put their trust in Him, but only after He has become their Savior first. You see for Jesus to try and clean up the political mess, once He left to go back to Heaven, it would all go back to where it once was. If Jesus Christ becomes our Savior, we will receive a changed body and a changed heart when we enter Heaven. Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”  We are each only given one chance in life to accept or reject this risen Savior. As it is now on earth, we have a free will and will always have a bent on doing wrong. So nothing big really changes until we are with Him for all eternity.

 

Jesus was looking far beyond the surface issue; He wanted to get to the heart of the matter, He looked at life from an eternal perspective, not just our comfort on this earth.  His answer back then is the same today, Romans 5:8-11 summarizes what He came for, “For when we were  still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” We like to think we are better than the next guy. From God’s perspective, we are all ungodly and fall short of His standards; that’s why we need a Savior.

 

Beheadings are still going on in many parts of the world today. Yes, we should take a stand against that behavior.  Romans chapter 13 gives us a guide for following Biblical authority and what the role of the government and ourselves should be. Some things are out of our control. As individuals we can do something, but not solve all of the world’s problems. Still keep in mind that trying to solve all the injustices and crimes without understanding that hatred, bitterness and all types of crimes stem from the heart, doesn’t accomplish very much. Jeremiah 17:9 and 10, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked: who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

 

Matthew 14: 6-13, “When Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she being prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head on a platter.” And the King was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oath and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, he departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  I’m sure the news greatly saddened Him. That, however; didn’t keep Him from losing sight of His focus. His goal was to die for the sins of the world; not to get sidetracked and fix the injustices of government, and get into a confrontation with this ungodly King. He knew that someday John the Baptist would be in heaven with Him. Luke 12: 4 and 5, “I say unto you, my friends do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after they have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say unto you, fear Him! Jesus knew the bigger battle was for the heart and soul of all mankind.

 

Someday judgment will come. True justice will take place. Romans 12: 18-19, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” The sins and injustices will be dealt with on judgment day; just don’t expect it to happen on this earth. What should be our concern is facing the sins in our own lives and seeing our need for a risen Savior that died to take away our sins.

 

Rather than looking at Jesus as a pacifist, I believe His willingness to sacrifice His life for each of our sins showed He was the greatest activist of all times. Through that action, each of us has the hope of eternal life, can have our sins forgiven, and can have the privilege of being with Him in Heaven for all eternity. He came to earth to die for us while we couldn’t save ourselves. Yes, if Jesus could do the miracles He did such as healing a man with leprosy, raising Lazarus from the dead and many others, isn’t that greater than being entangled with the political problems of the world?   He validated the Scripture in Matthew 1:23, “So this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated God with us.” It’s hard to imagine how God Himself cared enough for us to take each of our sins on the cross. He was the only one that could do it because he was the only one that lived a sinless life. He became flesh and blood in order to relate with us. He suffered and bled and died. Praise the Lord He didn’t remain on the cross, but arose and is living today. This is the hope He has given us if we trust Him as our Lord and Savior.

 

John 17: 14-19, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself; that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”

 

There is a song written that goes like this, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, my treasure is laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angles beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore. Oh Lord You know I have no friend like You, if heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do. Just over in Glory land we’ll live eternally, the saints on every hand are shouting victory.”

 

What is it that you hope for? Are you tied to these worldly goods and this world’s system? Are you spending too much time and energy on things that will not be here forever or trying to put a band aid on this world’s system while all along people’s hearts are broken, and they don’t understand the hope they can have in Jesus Christ?  There’s a story of a group of men standing around at a conference getting to know each other. One asked each one, “What their life’s work was?  One by one they told the group. The last one said, “I’m a Sunday School Superintendent” Startled by his answer, one fellow asked, “I thought you were a President of a bank?” His reply was, “Oh that’s how I make a living, my life’s work is working with children and watching them grow in Christ.”  His focus was on things that counted for eternity, not just the present. He wasn’t there to elevate his accomplishments, but to lift up the hope he had in Christ.

 

Over the next few weeks, on Sunday nights at 6 P.M. at Gateway Baptist we are learning to share our faith. We will be watching “The way of the Master” by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. If you are open to learning in order to share your faith more effectively or are uncertain about your own eternal destiny, perhaps this is the best time to find out how you can get that settled. Ask any question you have and hopefully we will be able to find the answer out for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 



It’s Not About Me

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

 

 

This has been a difficult article to write. The title itself tells you I must not be the one in the lime light; however if you don’t understand my past, then you won’t be able to understand the direction I want and need to go in the future.  It’s through my past mistakes that God has shown me what path to take and that He’s the only one capable in making it possible. Have I arrived yet, not at all, but I have no desire to return to my past. Some years ago some Christians wore bracelets with the initials WWJD. It stood for “What would Jesus do?” It’s a good way to face difficult decisions and looking at life the way He would. I personally like the one placed on a button one could wear. It was a little longer, PBPGIFWMY.  That one stood for, “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.” I realized I haven’t arrived and I can only go forward by allowing Him to take control and become the center place in my life.

 

So what about my past and have I learned anything from it? Even though I was raised in a Christian home, the world was controlling most of my life and focus. Not only did I like the girls, which was natural, but I loved fast cars and racing. In my late teens I was able to buy and sell many cars, from a Plymouth to Fords and Chevys. Those built in the mid 50’s era was easier to move, especially if I was able to take their old Dodge, Desoto or Chrysler in for trade and they gave me enough cash to make it worth my while. Yes, I went to church, but my mind was on what I could do with the latest car I bought. Some were repainted and new upholstery put in; others might require some engine work, to make them functional again and in some cases give it more horsepower.  Some of my friend’s parents had gas stations or body shops and they were anxious to help the kids out. As long as I put the tools back, I was able to borrow anything I needed and could work on a car at the corner of their gas station. Then when improved, be able to sell the finished car from their lot. I suppose some of this was good which kept us out of trouble. The problem was my life was more impressed with what I had and wanted that what it took to please or serve God.

 

Once out of school and my military service ended in Viet Nam, I got a Real Estate license and apart from listing and selling homes for others, much of my time was focused on buying and selling my own property, just like the cars. I found those that were beat up and trashed, needed improvements and ones where I could buy at a good price and make a profit. That in itself was not bad, but it occupied too much of my time and placed God in 2nd or 3rd place if He was even placed that high in what I thought were priorities. My life was truly about me.

 

Then things began to happen. We had bought and sold enough property that we had this beautiful home tucked away in the woods yet close to shopping and other conveniences. At the end of our 300 foot drive was a golf course. I thought about getting a golf cart and crossing the street and meeting and playing with clients, and then everything changed. We had a setting with 40 large pine trees whose height on average was 80 foot tall. They were thriving and had been there before I was born. We were in a beautiful private setting, until one day I looked up and all the pine needles had turned brown. We called in experts to evaluate our dilemma, but were told the 17 year locusts had come and each of those 40 trees had to be cut down. Of course we weren’t happy and it took away much of the beauty of our property let alone the cost to have those large trees and roots removed. I was reminded of the plagues of the locusts in Exodus chapter 10. Could it be that God was trying to get my attention?  Could it be that He wanted the focus to be on Him rather that myself and what we had? At the time I didn’t know it, but this was just the beginning of more challenges yet to come.

 

The golf course which had given a beautiful entrance to our place was sold to a developer. They knocked down the club house, tore up the greens and started putting in drain and sewer lines and it looked terrible. They bit off more that they could chew and ran into large demands the government placed on them so everything came to a halt.  For over two years the property sat with weeds growing up and no one cared to maintain it. Finally the property was place in bankruptcy, so our beautiful dream place turned into a nightmare. The market changed big time in 2008 and there was no interest for these large homes even in an ideal setting.  Those two incidences plus the fact that we were embezzled a few years earlier from a manager on a mini storage complex we owned should have been enough to make us more humble. I don’t know if I was as hard headed as Pharaoh, but I was probably close. I sensed what it might have been like for Job loosing all his possessions only he suffered far more. Still it was just the beginning of a wake up call for me.  In 2011 my wife of 42 years died of cancer, we believe it was caused by stress. Perhaps I contributed to it by the fact that I was living my life in the fast lane which placed more pressure on her than she deserved. The largest stress factor that affected each family member was due largely to the loss of our son Jay who was murdered in 2004 at the age of 26.  We had moved from the Chicago area in 1982 to Asheville, North Carolina to escape the high crime and troubles in a big city. We found that we were not exempt, but landed right in the middle of things after all. Our son Jay was with the wrong crowd late at night in the downtown district of the city. He knew the Lord and we believe he is in heaven, but the decisions he made that evening cost him his life.

 

During much of my time, now in my 30’s, I was actively serving in many capacities in the church. At the time I believed I was serving the Lord and doing things for Him rather than myself. As I look back I do believe I was a performance driven Christian. I did a lot to please others, but my motive was not focused on God and him alone. The Bible is full of principles and concepts. If followed, one will understand and discover their purpose in life as well as learn how to handle difficult decisions. Some concepts are very clear. If you do or don’t do something, this is the results. Others have to be searched out by analyzing several Bible verses to come up with a conclusion. IT’S NOT ABOUT ME is one of those concepts. One cannot open up the Bible and see IT’S NOT ABOUT ME written there. So how do we know it’s a Biblical concept?

 

We can study the qualities of Bible personalities and study their responses to a given situation. God will either show us how He was pleased with them or not. We can also discover the attributes of Jesus Christ, who was perfect, and see how He acted to please the Heavenly Father. We know He is righteous and just while at the same time He is loving. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” One cannot be giving, to the extent of giving their life and be selfish at the same time. He was all about loving and saving others; so the concept, “IT”S NOT ABOUT ME” is demonstrated in that verse that Jesus was a giver not a taker. He always placed others before Himself.

 

Jesus also told us in Matthew 12:37-39, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Is it possible to love yourself too much? My primary business for 42 years was given to Real Estate and what it took to succeed. In the early 70’s I bought all the books I was told would help me. Books like, “Looking out for Number One, Think and Grow Rich, Dress for Success, Winning through Intimidation, and others that would help me gain a competitive edge. Perhaps I would make a sale where another salesman wouldn’t.  Do you know what happened to all of those books?  One day I took each one of them out, tore them up and put them in the trash. I realized that I couldn’t function in the world and adopt their belief system and follow the Lord in His teachings at the same time.

 

Matthew 12:39 tells us we are to love our neighbor as ourselves; what exactly does that mean?  It’s ok to be secure and comfortable with yourself, but that can only come from a great relationship with Christ. He’s the one that will show you purpose in life and give you the confidence to share His teachings with others. He doesn’t want us to go though life with a woe is me attitude or in depression, still He wants the focus to be taken off us and placed on others. Once we get to that point, life will take on a new meaning. Joy then comes from not having things, but by helping others find their purpose in life. By letting others know they are loved and are made for a purpose, they can experience the Joy that Spirit Filled Christians can have. Rather than going through life aimlessly, they can be shown their value to God and the love Jesus Christ has for them.

 

Want to learn more on how this concept and others work? Come visit us at Gateway Baptist. If you are anywhere close to having your life out of balance, we believe though the encouragement of others and getting a grasp of what God’s plan is for your life, things just might fall into place and bring you the hope and joy you might be looking for.

 

 



Continue

 Po9sted July 4, 2014

 

CONTINUE . . .

 

 

Continue . . . When we see that word we know that it is a continued thought; something had to precede it. An example is found in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we CONTINUE in sin, that grace may abound?” It’s a chapter and verse that begins with a question. Some thought should be noted that the topic of the verse would be either sin, grace or possibly both, so where would we start looking for the answer? Perhaps it’s found in chapter five just before the question. So how far back do we have to look? We don’t know yet, let’s start at the beginning of chapter five and see.

 

Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Being justified means the declaring of a person to be just or righteous. It’s a good verse showing how we can be made righteous and have peace with God, but our plan right now is to find a verse that would have either sin or grace in it. Instead what did we find? The first word in chapter five is THEREFORE, which brings us back to chapter four. Why should we go back any further?  Because we might want to know what therefore is there for. In fact, we might have to go all the way to chapter one to understand fully why we should NOT CONTINUE in sin as found in Romans 6:1.  We won’t do that much of an in-depth study at this time; instead for this article, we will look more closely at the verses in chapter five. This should be enough to help us gain more clarity and insight into our subject verse which will be Romans 6:1.      

 

Romans 5:2, “By whom also we have access by faith into His GRACE wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This is the first mention of the word GRACE in this chapter. Then it’s repeated in verses 15, 17, 20 and 21. SIN or SINNERS is mentioned in verses 8,12,13,14,16,19,20 and 21.  The last two concluding verses in Romans 5 are verses 20 and 21. “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound, but where SIN abounded, GRACE did much more abound: That as SIN reigned unto death, even so might GRACE reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Those last two verses of chapter five are a key to understanding why we SHOULD NOT CONTINUE in sin. Now let’s look at Romans 6:2, “God forbid. How shall we that are dead in sin live any longer therein? Here is another question that requires an answer and some deep meditation on our part.

 

We can’t begin to understand the sacrifice and love that was made available to us in Romans 5:20 and 21. To think that God who made us, would love us so much, that He would send His only begotten Son, (The marvelous incarnation in human flesh) Jesus Christ to die for us when He had full knowledge that we would sin before we were even born is unbelievable.  In spite of our sin He tells us, “Where SIN abounded, GRACE did much more abound.” In others words, His GRACE trumps our SIN or is greater than our SIN. A song that was written by Julia H. Johnson (1911) and music by Daniel B. Towner (1910) is entitled, “GRACE GREATER THAN ALL OUR SIN” it goes like this: Verse 1. “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.” Chorus, “Grace grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.” Verse 2, “Dark is the stain that we cannot hide. What can avail to wash it away? Look! There is flowing a crimson tide, Whiter than snow you may be today.” Verse 3,”Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe. All who are longing to see His face, will you this moment His grace receive?”

 

A verse that expounds on the song written above is Romans 5:8,”But God commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait until we got ourselves together and all cleaned up before He would accept us, in fact there is no way we could have done that. When we find ourselves in our worst condition; that is when we realize we need a Savior. We tried everything else and found out that nothing works.  So considering God loves us and He accepts us just as we are, isn’t it reasonable that we should accept His love and GRACE and refrain from CONTINUING to SIN? Yes, we are born in sin and have a bent on going that way, but when we focus on Him and the sacrifice He’s made for us, how then can we feel comfortable sinning?

 

Couldn’t God design us so we wouldn’t sin in the first place? Sure He could, I believe it would be wonderful for Him if He didn’t have to deal with an ungrateful spirit, a hateful heart, a lying tongue or unfaithfulness to Himself and others. There is a reason He created us the way He did. He wanted us to have a free will. That way we could choose to follow Him or not. We weren’t made into a mold or a puppet on a string made to do everything He wanted. He made us a living human being, not a look-a-like person.

 

Some years ago wax museums became an interest to people and it was amazing how closely they could make people look like themselves. Now that concept has advanced even greater. In 2002 a Gallery of 50 of the World’s most famous people in the political, artistic and cultural arenas was created. They move, talk and sing. It’s called Hall of Fame and is the World’s first Silicon Animated Museum. Where do you suppose it is?  The United States, no, it’s just a few miles outside of Beirut, Lebanon.

 

Unfortunately, if you pull up their sight on the internet, you will see how they have used animation in ways to CONTINUE repeating some of the foolish and sinful statements that some of our American celebrities have made. This includes statements of some of our past Presidents. These animated remarks are designed to make fun of the Americans. They not only are laughing at us, but can use this as propaganda to show how wrong and sinful we are; therefore allowing them to feel justified in remaining our enemy. Long after the real people have died, what they have said and done will be available for the world to see and hear for many years to come. Are there statements and actions you wish you could take back?  Aren’t you glad you have a forgiving Savior who will not hold your sins against you?

 

Do you CONTINUE to hold a grudge or an unforgiving attitude towards one who was once your friend? How about your spouse?  Have you compared that attitude with how much Christ has loved you? He has forgiven you in spite of your indifference towards Him.  If you have put your trust in Jesus Christ, He is waiting for you with open arms for your arrival in Heaven. Yes, you will answer to Him for what you have or haven’t done for Him, but your sins will have been buried and will not be placed on your account. Instead they were placed on Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He hath made Him who knew no sin; to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”         

 

So with that entire unique look-a-like appearance, what is lacking? Plenty, they don’t have a mind, a heart, a soul and in summary they just don’t have life. One amazing thing that we can be thankful for is that God created us to have a relationship with Him. He has given us life and a free will to choose to follow Him or go our own separate way. He died on the cross to take away our sin, it’s up to us to either accept or reject His provision. His ways are always best, but sometimes it takes us a while to believe and accept that. John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” He’s offered that life to you; will you accept His unconditional love?  

 

Now back to our topic of CONTINUE and the danger of continuing in sin, so then what should we CONTINUE in?  Before we start, we need to understand this principle. It’s not God’s nature to take a desire or object away from us without offering us something far better in return. If only we would listen to Him, we could avoid many trials and conflicts in our lives. Two positive verses that I like with the word CONTINUE are John 8:31 & 32, “Then said Jesus to those Jews that believed on Him, if ye CONTINUE in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Do you like freedom? I certainly do. Freedom from sin, freedom from the bondage of this life, and freedom from the pressures other people place on us. By turning it all over to Jesus Christ, He will not only set you free, but show you a plan, purpose and meaning for your life, which will make life far more meaningful and joyful than you’ve ever experienced before.

 

Is prayer a benefit? There are times when God may tell us yes, no, or possibly wait; however when your spirit is in line with His spirit you will be given peace by Him. Isn’t that a benefit?  He may not have given you the answer you were hoping for, but He might have spared you from a lot of unexpected grief in the future. We must recognize He sees our life from the beginning to the end; we cannot predict or see the future. Colossians 4:2 is a good verse, “CONTINUE in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”  Are we watching, are we thankful?  I Thessalonians 5:16-18 gives us some wisdom and a track to run on. “Rejoice evermore.” “Pray without ceasing.” In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 

 

This is always the hardest time when I have to sign off and tell you I’ll see you next time. I need that time to prepare and bring you, hopefully, a different encouraging article. You’ll just have to wait and see what it is going to be. As far as today is concerned, don’t forget to CONTINUE in the right direction. 2 Timothy 3:14, “but CONTINUE thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” There’s more to learn in verses 15 to 17, the conclusion of the chapter. I’m giving you a chance to read those verses for yourself; they are another study all in themselves.

 

In conclusion I’ll leave you with this closing verse. I Corinthians 2:9, “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”  Once again I want to encourage you to come and worship with us at Gateway Baptist Church. It’s a time to gather together and receive what it is that God has prepared for us.           

 

 

 

 



Do Sheep Still Need a Shepherd?

 

You may be wondering how a city boy that grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida would know anything about sheep. You’re right I never lived on a farm or was a shepherd. I read and heard about some of their characteristics. Living a near death experience surrounded by them has helped me identify with the sheep.

 

When my grandparents retired from Michigan, my parents followed them to Florida. Dad took a job where he could spend the majority of his time outside rather that in the office.  He became a building inspector and with his Civil Engineering degree Commercial Builders would think twice before they would try and cut corners in building Shopping Centers or a high rise office building. As a young teenager I remembered observing him looking through a special transit and watch the amount of blows huge telephone sized timbers could take before he agreed they were driven deep enough. Much of Florida is basically swamp land. You can’t dig three feet without finding water so building is a challenge. St. Petersburg has been named the Sunshine City. Yes it rains, but for several years the St. Petersburg Times would give a free newspaper away everyday the sun wouldn’t shine. That occurred on average about 5 times a year. The majority of the time Dad was outside and he developed this rich golden tan and remained active.  

 

Having good health Dad was able to combine his sick days into his vacation time so every five years he would be allowed a six week vacation. With that we often headed west and traveled extensively. In 1953 When I was ten years old and my sister was two we drove through many Southern States then up the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, through Oregon, Washington into Canada and east until we got above Michigan then dropped down and back to Florida. It was close to a 10,000 mile trip. Since the three of us were born in Michigan we stopped to visit cousins and other family members. My sister Linda being the youngest was born in St. Petersburg, the sunshine city. She is known in our family as the Florida Cracker. 

 

It was while we were in Oregon that we came upon the sheep.  Forty or more of them were in front of us all over the road. To make matters worse we were approaching a blind curve up ahead. Dad drove less than five miles an hour. Instead of being hit they would move out of the way then return to the back of the car yet still in the street. We had no clue how they got there or where the shepherd was. Perhaps they were wild sheep or they had broken though a fence. We didn’t have time to figure it out because all of a sudden we heard this Tractor Trailer approaching the curve, in the next lane, at a speed of nearly sixty miles and hour. Yes, he saw the sheep but just laid on his air horn the whole time. If I didn’t believe in prayer before, I certainly did that day. I thought all of us were going to die; our car would be destroyed as well as each of the sheep. I remember putting my head down and was scared to death. In a few minutes all of the sheep scattered, the truck driver sped on by and to our surprise he hadn’t hit a one. Then we took time to pray as a family and thanked the Lord for His protection.

 

That incident was over 60 years ago. So are shepherds more modern these days?  Believe it or not a Swiss biologist is testing out a collar that can read a sheep’s heartbeat and alert shepherds with a text message when a sheep’s heart starts racing as if a sheep were at risk of a wolf attack. Example: “Shepherd, this is your sheep texting: Help!” That’s not all. The collar would also be equipped to send out a spray repellent or a loud noise to scare off threatening wolves and ward off potential attacks. Do you realize the impact this technology would have on the shepherd and the sheep?

 

So instead of the shepherd having to be there with the sheep could sit at Starbucks at a nearby location and only respond if his sheep were in danger. Now what if the Lord had a cell phone?  Could you imagine Jesus saying to Mark, “Peter’s on the phone do you want to talk to him?” How about Jesus healing the Nobleman’s son who was 20 miles away as found in John 4:46-54? Perhaps Jesus could hand the man the phone and see the picture of his son dancing around then the father would not have to rush home so fast.  What if the shepherds had a navigator? Couldn’t they just punch in Bethlehem and skip following the Star in the East? We will examine this more closely at the end of this article; now let’s find out more about the sheep.

 

David Bromley is a member of our church whose family raised sheep. Some of what he told me is, “They definitely need a leader and can’t manage on their own. If they get out of their fenced in area you can’t clap your hands or yell, they will just scatter even more. The best way to get them back inside the fence is to get some food, such as corn, walk back in the middle of the fence, and then they will automatically follow.” They had a three sided fence with water on the fourth side. One time a Ewe lamb got in the water and was stuck. She wasn’t there long before David went to get her out. He spent weeks trying to nurse her back to health and focused on her safety, but eventually she died. They need constant attention. Left on their own they don’t have a strong will to live.

 

Consider yourself as a helpless sheep for the time being, what kind of shepherd would you want?  If sheep lack the attention they need they will go the wrong way unaware of the dangers at hand. They have been known to nibble themselves right off a mountainside. They will overgraze the same land and run out of food unless the shepherd leads them to new pastures. Sheep can fall prey to predators, and when they do, they are virtually defenseless. Instead of trying to help themselves, they will panic and die. Sheep can suffer greatly because of the nose fly. This is a fly that deposits its eggs on the mucus membrane of the sheep’s nose. When they hatch small worm-like larvae work their way up the nose into the sheep’s head. Because of this irritation it causes them to thrash their heads against anything they can find. They will literally kill themselves to get rid of the painful feeling. So a good shepherd puts an ointment in their nose to ward off this problem.

 

We are familiar with the 23rd Psalm. It is usually read at funerals, but it is still very appropriate for us living today. Here Jesus is our Shepherd. He knows without Him we can’t function on our own. Oh we try. We think that with all the technology we have we can basically put our lives on automatic pilot and we don’t need Him. He knows better and we should recognize the very air we breathe, the food we eat and the things we have really all came to us because of Him. So lets analysis what He is saying to us in this Psalm. It starts out, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” (lack for anything). “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me besides the still waters.” When the psalmist says, “He maketh me to lie down,” he is not referring to an enforced rest for the sheep’s needs, the sheep can lie down.

 

Phillip Keller (1920-1997) summarizes this article better than I could. He was born in Kenya to missionary parents, and trained in agriculture. He worked as an agricultural development specialist, wildlife photographer and naturalist.” What he is about to say comes from his close observation of sheep. He had written many books, but is best known for, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” There he tells us, “It’s impossible for sheep to lie down unless four things are true. First, sheep must be free from hunger. They cannot lie down as long as they feel a need for finding food. Yet, in the second verse of Psalm 23, we find that the Shepherd has so satisfied the sheep’s hunger that they can lie down right in the midst of green pastures. Second, if sheep are to rest, they must be free from fear. Sheep are helpless, timid animals with little means of self-defense. They are easily frightened. Are you beloved, beset with fears?”

 

“Third, sheep cannot rest unless they are free from friction. Tension with others of their kind keeps them on their feet; they feel they must defend themselves!  Fourth, sheep cannot rest unless they are free from pests. Sheep can be greatly aggravated and driven to distraction by flies, parasites, or other pests which would seek to torment them. How does Jehovah-Raah shepherd you in regard to these four needs so that you do not want?”     

 

Jehovah-Raah – The Lord my Shepherd. A shepherd who tenderly leads us, loves us, and will help keep us safe. Are you finding the rest you need or has the trials and difficulties of life got you down?  None of us at Gateway Baptist Church are free from difficulties. It’s just that we have found the one that can see us through life’s trials and our focus is on Him.  Why not take the focus off yourself and turn to the One that always has your best interest at heart. Come and visit us this Sunday and let us help you discover a joy filled life that can only come through Jesus Christ.



Three Score Plus Ten

A score in the Bible is twenty years, so three score plus ten is 70 years old. It’s hard to believe I crossed that threshold on December 14th, 2013. According to Psalms 90:10  we read this, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” One might say I’m living on borrowed time. In the New King James Version and other translations you won’t find the word score used, you will most likely have to go back around 100 years. In my old copy of Nave’s Study Bible written by Orville J. Nave in 1907, you will find it there. He offered a lot to Bible students long before the computer age came into being. If you are younger you can’t appreciate the old folks talking about their aches and pains. I won’t bore you with all of mine. I will tell you just this and ask for your prayers. According to my Orthopedic Surgeon, I need a hip replacement. I can’t stand more than 15 minutes at a time without holding on to something or the pain is excruciating, that’s why I couldn’t participate in physical efforts during our recent church flooding. I do appreciate those that could. Other than that my hip, I feel as good as when I was in my 30’s and 40’s.  

 

For my birthday we decided to visit my immediate family in North Carolina and Alabama. That included my daughter, three grandkids, my sister, her husband and four of their children.  We were given plenty of chances to witness to other travelers along the way. We had pleasant visits with each family. It was while at my sisters, who is eight years younger, that I was asked to share what it was like growing up. Some of this I will pass on to you. My sister Linda had to be the perfect child because I was the one that cause my parents all the grief they could handle.     

 

Although I was raised in a Christian home, I was bent on doing things my own way until I was 24. At that point I was faced with the fact that running my own life wasn’t working. By listening to Pastor Bill Briggs, while living in Chicago, he challenged me by words that took less than a minute.  Although he rarely attended the young adult activities, he did that evening. He was gracious and thanked Jim Davis for opening up his home and inviting him, his wife and each of us for fellowship during the Christmas season.  He then asked us one question that is imbedded in my mind and brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. His question was to the whole group, but probably impacted me the most. “Are you tired of running your own life and are willing to turn everything over to Jesus Christ?” In my heart I said YES. I had the head knowledge of what Christianity was all about, but it wasn’t in my heart until I surrendered my own will over to His will. That took place in December 1967. As of this writing it was 46 years ago this month.

 

In spite of the trials and tragedies that I have faced, God has given me an inner peace and joy that only He can bring. These verses among many more are truly meaningful to me and they can be for you. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trutheth in Thee” Isaiah 26:3.  By reading and memorizing verses such as this I can honestly say I look forward to each day the Lord gives me. My wife and I truly enjoy Gods blessing. We love Him and each other and it doesn’t depend upon anything we may or may not have. We believe it all belongs to Him and is just loaned to us. By looking at life with that thought in mind,  it takes the pressure off of our trying to please and impress others. For years I was a performance driven Christian. I would say yes to what others asked of me, found my plate was overloaded and it nearly caused a burnout. Now my wife and I set realistic goals, seek to find out what God wants us to do in the order He wants and that results in that unspeakable joy that only He can bring. Yes, we both remain busy, but are more relaxed now and take life as it comes rather that try to manipulate or change it.      

 

So what was it like growing up in the 50’s and 60’s? Why did I run away from God during my early years even though my parents were a blessing to others and Dad was an outstanding Bible teacher that was teaching five separate Bible studies during that time period? Perhaps the following will give you some idea of what it was like in my early youth. I was the oldest and probably spoiled rotten before my sister Linda was born eight years later. Since our Florida home had just two bedrooms, my folks added a third bedroom over the garage with a bathroom at the bottom of the steps. So when I was still too young to be left unsupervised I had the privilege of what every kid wants and that’s their independence by having my own separate bedroom away from the rest of the family.   The year was 1951. It was safe then to play in a sand pile next door when the home was under construction. People didn’t lock their homes or cars and there was no fear of kidnapping or child molestation. Work ethics were high and most every parent was just trying to raise their children right and build a modest home after the Second World War. For the most part I started out in a normal life with a normal family.

 

The following year everything changed. In 1952 Elvis Presley came out of nowhere and every parent had to brace himself for a world that would never be the same. If kids were acting crazy before, he certainly helped magnify that behavior even greater when he came out with his records. The kids thought he was cool and so family conflicts that might not have been there before started to surface. Left alone at a young age and having a radio in my room I not only listed to him, but was influenced by his singing. Of course my parents knew who he was and asking for or getting a guitar for Christmas was out of the question. So we made a guitar out of palmetto leaves taped them together and ran around half crazy singing the latest songs and acted like we were some kind of Rock Star.  One of his songs, “Your nothing but a hound dog” didn’t help our self esteem. What it did was cause us to act like a hound dog and instead of behaving respectful and obedient to our parents, we rebelled instead.

 

On January 28th, 1956, Elvis made his first appearance on National TV. Our family didn’t have a TV, but Bobby down the street did. I would hang out with him and watch a lot of unhealthy programs.  Today we would say that was mild, but it was the beginning of an age of rebellion and self gratification. I was drafted after graduating from High School and being out a semester from college. It was May 11th, 1965. At the end of my time, the Lord saw fit that I got my life together. Had no one taken an interest in me like Pastor Briggs there is no telling where I would have ended up. Some of my friends took off for the Woodstock Festival Concert that was on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It was three days of rock-in-roll, free love and drugs. Over 500,000 young people were there and I can’t imagine what kind of trouble they got into. That was another big negative boost that made a significant change in America. So I was swayed by this do your own thing lifestyle and many others felt the same. If one came from an unstable family with little guidance and a flawed value system they were open to getting into even more trouble. Some of that free thinking and irrational behavior has now passed on to their children and grandchildren. Not all, but some have bought into the idea that’s ok to let everything go and life is really all about me. Until we get to the point of realizing it’s all about Him, we will never have that inner peace and satisfaction that the verses mentioned will bring.

 

It’s hard to believe, but over 600,000 people visit Graceland in Memphis Tennessee the home of Elvis Presley each year even though he passed away in 1977.  Although many are young, several women now in their 70’s and 80’s are still inspired by him and can’t get his music out of their head. If you were to ask nearly anyone in the world who Elvis Presley was they would tell you, “He’s the King of Rock-in-Roll” and that he was.  The difference between my life then and now is that I’ve replaced that King with the true King written in the book of Revelation 17:14, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the lamb shall overcome them; for He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, and they that are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” The Lamb is referring to Jesus and was spoken by John the Baptist in John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.”

 

It is not my goal to pick on Elvis. He sang some good Gospel music such as Peace in the Valley, How Great Thou art and He walks with me among others. I just want you to see while being raised in a strong Christian home, I allowed the world’s philosophy to influence me and cause me to loose focus as to why I was placed on this earth in the first place. So why are we here? Paul in the Bible puts it this way as he penned these words while in prison. “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1: 20 and 21. “For ye are bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20. 

 

Peter was another great leader that had walked with Jesus Christ. He made some mistakes, but came out the stronger for it. In his writing around 65 A.D. he penned this, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth, that God  in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11. To glorify God is to show appreciation and adoration for who he is. Psalms 103 consist of 22 verses which provide us a format in which to praise the Lord. It’s worth reading all of it, but I will close with just the first 5 verses. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness, and tender mercies, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

 

Can you relate to those passages? Is the Lord the center of your life or has the worldly way distracted you? Do you want the joy and peace that only Jesus Christ can bring? If you are looking for more out of life that what you’ve been experiencing, give us a call or come by and visit us at Gateway Baptist. I believe you will find you are heading in the right direction.

Jim Yerkes



A Child is Born

The book of Isaiah was written around 700 B.C. Chapter 9 is a key prophecy as to what would come 700 years later. Some events have transpired before our lifetime and parts of the chapter are still yet to be fulfilled in the future. In my Bible I have a heading above the chapter, “Christ’s birth and glorious reign.” The entire chapter is worth reading, but the key to the prophecy back then was written by Isaiah whose name means “Salvation of the Lord.” The theme of the entire book is, “Israel’s Messiah.” We will focus primarily on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ as found in the following verses:

 

Isaiah 9:6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it with justice and righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

 

At this time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We spend time with family, buy Christmas presents for each other and may see manger scenes in someone’s yards or at our home. This is fine, but the question is, “Is it just a passing thing or has Jesus really impacted our lives and caused us to make some positive changes that would last forever?” Let’s take a few moments to pick out some of what is said in Isaiah 9:6-7.

 

THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS:  Jesus will reign as King Jesus of the world. The government of the entire world rests on his shoulders.

 

HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL: When He came He was a wonder. He was unique above all human understanding. He stands supreme above everyone else.

 

HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED COUNSELOR:  Jesus reveals the mind of God. He gives us God’s council from God’s perspective, not man’s.

 

HE SHALL BE CALLED THE MIGHTY GOD:  He is God almighty. Colossians 2:9, “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

 

HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED THE EVERLASTING FATHER: Father of eternity. All ages meet in Him. He came to die for us as God’s one of a kind begotten Son. John 10:30 says, “I and my Father are one.”  John 10:17, “I lay down my life that I might take it again.”

 

HE SHALL BE CALLED THE PRINCE OF PEACE:  For those that have placed their trust in Christ, they will experience an inner peace with God, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world giveth I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. There will be a period of time Satan will be bound and there will be peace on Earth that’s found in Revelation 20:4-6. Christ will take His believers to heaven to a place He’s prepared for them for all eternity as found in John 14:1-6.  That will be everlasting peace in a place He’s prepared for all believers. There is much more that can be said about this, but it will take us away from the birth of Jesus.

 

The real question we need to ask ourselves is, “Are we looking at Jesus as merely another baby born in the world or is He a special baby born to die? Does His life, death and resurrection have any significance to you or do you try and avoid discovering His purpose and what He came for?” He loves you with an everlasting love. In 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” As much as we think we can please God by our own efforts and good works, they can never match up to His standards and perfection. That’s why we need a Savior to be a substitute for our sins. He was born to die for each and everyone one of us, that includes you and I. His gift is eternal life; He gave His life to save ours. It’s the best gift He could have given. 

 

If what has been said speaks to your heart and soul, all you need to do is ask Jesus Christ to become your personal Lord and Savior. Ask Him to forgive you your sins and begin reading His Word, the Holy Bible. Then find a Bible based church to worship and grow in. It doesn’t have to be ours, but we feel you will be welcome here and we will be willing to answer any questions you might have. By doing so, you will grow spiritually and mature with your walk in the Christian faith. 



The Number Seven

It is fascinating to me how much truth and depth one can find in the Word of God. It doesn’t matter how long one has been reading and studying these truths, they become rich and meaningful each and every day. Lamentations 3:2-24 are encouraging words for a new day, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!”

 

Romans 11:33-36 starts out with a statement and close with a statement and ask us three questions in between. This will give us some idea just how awesome our Heavenly Father is and why the more we learn about Him the more we find there is still so much left to learn. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever, Amen.”

 

In Acts 20:27 Paul tells us, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” 2 Peter 2:3, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” That means we gain knowledge and wisdom by His power that is within us. So how do we do that? 2 Timothy 2:15 is a clear approach, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

 

We have probably met people that are so engrossed in prophecy that they seem to forget Jesus love and compassion for others. Then there are some that care only about the words of Jesus that they discount the writings of anyone else in the Bible. Either extreme is a lack of balance and misses studying the whole counsel of God. If you’ve read my other articles, you know I’m not stuck just on one topic or theme.  Today however I want to introduce you to the topic of numerology and that’s evaluating numbers in the Bible. Yes I know that can be carried to an extreme, but again my goal is to keep it in balance. By looking at just one I believe you will learn and find it interesting. Some have come up with a meaning for each of the numbers and that is an extreme without sufficient verses to back them up. There are just a few numbers that give us enough data to form a pattern, but the one that stands out the most and gives us plenty of food for thought is the number seven.

 

That number gives us a picture of the Lord and is symbolic in His perfection, completion and fulfillment.  Some examples of this are found in Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.”  Genesis 1:31 tells us that “God saw everything He had made and it was very good.”  In verse two of the second chapter He tells us He finished His work and rested on the seventh day. Another Word His work was completed and when God expresses something being made very good we could say it was perfect.

 

In 2 Kings 5 we read that Nathan, captain of the host of the King of Syria had leprosy. Elisha, a man of God in verse 10 tells us, “And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shall be clean.” He did and became whole again; an example of perfection and completion. There are many more, but lets turn our thoughts to a story we all like and that’s the story of the walls of Jericho.

 

Joshua chapter six is an interesting reading. We know that God told Joshua just to march and use trumpets and He would bring the walls down, but let’s look at the story a little closer with His commands of numbers. In Joshua 6:8, God commanded them to use seven priests, with seven trumpets and have the Arc of the Covenant follow behind them. They were commanded in verse 10 by Joshua not to shout, make any noise, or speak until the day he said to SHOUT. So for six days they followed through and then the command was different on the seventh day. Verse 15 is when God gave them the victory, “But it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose early, about the dawning of the day, and marched around the city seven times in the same manner. On that day only they marched around the city seven times. And the seventh time it happened, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people; “Shout for the Lord has given you the city!’

 

Something tells me that many of the Israelites knew what God had done in the past. They didn’t know what happened to Nathan since that took place 500 years after theJericho wall fell. Since Joshua followed Moses in chorological order they knew about Gods provision to the Israelites and the parting of the Red Sea. The number seven might not have any significance to them still when they were told they were to walk around the walls seven times on the seventh day I’m sure a lot of thoughts went through their minds. Some might have been indifferent to God and since they weren’t allowed to talk, this gave them time to think. Some might have been thinking; “WOW we are going to see fireworks at the end of this seven trip walk.” When it happened it was more than fireworks, today we would call it the Grand Finale.  

 

So what prompted me to write this article? I opened my Bible to start my daily devotion in which I read a Proverb for each day of the week. I happened to flip open to Psalms and looked down and saw a verse that just popped out at me. It was Psalms 12:6, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tested in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. I immediately thought of Daniel chapter 3 and how Nebuchadnezzar was angered and demanded the furnace be heated seven times more than it was usually heated. Then when I read that the Lord was in there with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I began to wonder if God had caused the furnace heated that hot to symbolize his character of purity, holiness, perfection and completeness. That miracle certainly was one that demonstrated His awesome power and ability to surpass the natural laws that the King had to follow. It was so hot that own men died while in the process of casting them in the furnace. It made me realize that the Lord was there to protect His Saints and He can protect us in any circumstance we might find ourselves in if it’s His will.  

 

Now for my disclaimer; none of us know how each of these Scriptures may fit together in Gods overall plan. I’m not placing everything on a number and trying to make it nice and neat. Still I know God is a God of order and I believe He has times, dates and numbers that mean more than we can possibly imagine. What we need to realize that while we may only grasp a small percentage of the Bible, God is interested in details and is in control of every situation. We need to give Him all the credit that’s due Him and be willing to let Him guide us into all truth. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers, but I see the value of learning more. Why not visit us at Gateway Baptist and lets learn together.   



A Thankful Heart

 

After being away from our church building for a couple of months, due to the flood that covered much of a broad area in Colorado, we are back home again. Our hearts go out to those that suffered losses greater than ours. In our case nearly everything had to be replaced when we took in two foot of water. In spite of that, we learned some valuable lessons. People and relationships mean far more than stuff. From our standpoint we wished it hadnt happened, but with God He had a purpose in it all.   

 

Our community got together. Several people and families that we might not have otherwise met rallied around us and pitched in. It wasn’t a simple task, but took hundreds of hours of work. Tons of mud had to be removed and everything had to be washed and rewashed to eliminate mold and moisture. That was just on the inside. On the outside, several inches of mud had to be removed just on the driveway and then pressure washed. It had to be removed from the grass and the whole landscaping redone. Appliances, heating equipment, carpeting, hymnbooks and more all had to be replaced. It was a tedious job for those that were willing and could do it. On the up side that helped us form many lasting relationships that most likely will carry on for many years.  

 

Had it not been for the flooding, I might not have thought much about the dangers we faced in our own personal home. A few hours before coming home my wife called and said, “Our hot water heater is leaking.” She had been moping and filling a pan of water every hour. When I arrived and saw the situation I said, “Thank you Lord.”  My wife was puzzled by my statement, so I went on to tell her how God was looking out for us. We had been planning a vacation and had the hot water heater burst while away it could have created a great danger to our home. Five feet away we had hardwood floors that if left in water could have buckled and would need to be replaced. Interestingly the hot water “heart” had been pumping and performing since 1994 so it was time for a change. As we see it God was looking out for us.

 

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We don’t know what dangers could await us. Sometimes going through a lesser trial might keep us from danger in a larger one. Does it mean we should not suffer or go though hard times? No, just put everything in perspective and consider Philippians 4:6 as a way to approach each and every situation. “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.”  He’s the one that needs to hear our troubles and He is the only one that can solve our every problem.

 

Are we really thankful to God in what He’s given us or do we focus on the negatives? When we rise above our trials life can take on a different meaning.

 

 

Psalms 50:14 tells us, “Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most High.”

 

Psalms 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped, therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song will I praise Him.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  

 

These are just a few verses on thanksgiving. There are 100 verses that mention being thankful in the Bible. Ask yourself do I look at a glass of water as being ½ empty or ½ full? Life is so much easier when we focus on what we have rather than what we don’t. Why not come by and visit us at Gateway Baptist church this week? We would love to show you why we are thankful and how you can rejoice and be glad as well.