Peaceful Living


imagesG03KU0LOIf it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. – Romans 12:18

In the light of recent events, peaceful is probably one of the last words we would use to describe life.  But, it is an exhortation from the Holy Spirit through the pen of Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome.

In his day, Paul noted many non-peaceful events both for himself and those whom he called “Beloved.”  Rome was not an easy place to live for a Christian; the entire Empire was not overly thrilled with this “way” of living introduced by this Jesus of Nazareth.  Because of the natural disdain, Paul exhorts his brethren to live peaceably with all men, to the very extent of their capability.

The question is what does “peaceably” mean?  The term in Greek carries with it a sense of causation so it could be seen as “causing peace,” but that just leads back to the question: What is peace?  At its root, peace is the concept that there is no struggle between parties; each party has exactly what it needs to live as it desires to live.  In our current state of living, that utopia is not and will not be seen until the King returns to rule with righteousness.  However, that should not dissuade us from striving for it now.

We are to do all that is within OUR ability to live without struggle with all people.  No matter what they do to us, we cannot react other than peaceably.  Christ provides the example and leaves us with the command: “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44, cf. Matthew 22:36-40).

A working definition of love is “a conscious desire, yielding action, for the betterment of others, even at the detriment of self.”  It is a “conscious desire” because we must make that conscious choice within our mind.  It must be a choice that “yields action” for love manifests itself in action.  It is focused on the edification of others, not building up self.  Lastly, it may even come with a personal cost (cf. Philippians 2, I Corinthians 13, I John 4).

We will each answer for our own actions when we stand before our LORD on that Day (cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).  Until then, we must strive to love and live at peace with all, trusting God, the Good Shepherd, to care for His sheep perfectly.

 

Calling Upon God


TBCM Blog Devotional - FDR (1930s) Fireside Chats Swiss chalet at Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park - D_Manka - Oct2014TBCM Blog Devotional - Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park Pic - D_Manka - Oct 2014I was reared in Pittsburgh, PA.  Twice my parents took me to Glacier National Park in Montana.  Glacier is 2,000 miles from my boyhood home.  Back in the early ’60s, we did not have much in the way of satellite communication.

The world’s first commercial radio station was KDKA in Pittsburgh.  As a boy I used to listen to both KDKA radio and the KDKA television station.  There was no such thing as cable TV or satellite dish television.  Everything was sent from tall radio or TV towers and stations were basically all local stations.

I had three old crystal radio sets and had fun listening to them on my bed at home.  I had a ground wire that I attached to the heat register beside my bed and an antenna wire that I tossed out of my bedroom window onto the roof over our front porch.  I could either attach a small earphone or my large WWII vintage headset such as B-17 bomber pilots used.  When I touched the wire to the crystal, I could hear KDKA.  If I adjusted the tuner, I could hear KDKA everywhere on the dial, because I was in Pittsburgh and the station was beefed up to be quite powerful at night.  The FCC allowed some stations to greatly increase their power at night so that they could be received from great distances.

I still remember riding with dad in the car in Pittsburgh to have a shop drill holes and install our first car radio in our old Dodge.  

When we visited Glacier in Montana, my dad and I were sitting in the car.  He was trying out the radio.  Dad was a research chemist engineer and an inventor.  All the way from Pittsburgh he could receive the signal from KDKA.  We could listen to the local news or even the Pittsburgh Pirates’ game at Forbes Field just five miles from our house.  Back home, we used to park our car at our church and walk over to Forbes Field to see the Pirates play.

Here we were, 2,000 miles from home and we could listen to what was going on in our community back in Pennsylvania.  How exciting that was!

That was a rare event for us in that era of technology, but every day, every hour we have an even better ability to communicate at a long distance with our heavenly Father through prayer.  He hears us from His home in Heaven.  He is tuned in to us.  Wherever we go He is there.  Wherever our “tuner” is dialed, He still receives our message when we call upon Him.

Yes, at this time, we are “grounded” here on Earth, but prayer is like our antenna to call out to our Father in Heaven.

 

A Heart of Thanksgiving!


imagesFC11Y7BEMany times over the years, my children have thanked me for things.  I think as they get older, they realize the really valuable “things” are not always things!  But today, I, as a mother, want to thank my middle daughter for many things.

She was born on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1983, at 8:13 AM, 10 pounds, 13 ½ ounces (our own little turkey!), and we named her Amanda Michelle Baker.  She has always had a tender heart, and we realized very early in her life that she was going to use her life to serve God (although we did not know how then).  She’s always had a heart to help others, and like my other two daughters, she has a natural ability to come along side and teach others.

The Lord spoke to her very early in life about missions, and she was advised to get her education in something that would help her on the mission field.  She chose teaching high school students (degree in English Education) and has successfully taught in Christian Schools for almost ten years.

Now as she pursues going to England as a missionary, she is showing real determination in the deputation work.  Her persistence and presentation have already been a blessing to many.  She’s going to get there, and she’ll do a great job when she gets there!

I want to thank her for her indomitable spirit—“I can do it, and I will do it!”  However, she truly realizes that her dependency must be on God.  I’m thankful as I observe a consistent daily devotional time and a prayer life that sees answers to prayers, that she gives God the glory for it all.  I’m thankful for the example she is setting for other young people and single women.  I’m thankful for her sweet and kind spirit.  I’m thankful for her friendship.  (What a blessing as a mother to have my adult daughters as friends now!)

I love you, Amanda—oh, and Happy Birthday too! :)

Who is Jesus?


imagesWho is Jesus?

(according to John 1)

He is the Word; we should receive His revelation.

He is the eternal God; we should submit to Him.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

He is the Creator; we should give Him credit.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

He is light and life; we should accept His guidance. 

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

…That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

He humbly offered Himself; we should receive Him and believe on Him.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,

He is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; we should glorify Him.

(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

He is preferred; we should humbly exalt Him. 

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?  And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

…He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

He is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin; we should behold Him.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.   …And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

He is the Son of God; we should testify of Him. 

And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

He is Master; we should follow Him.

And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?

He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

He is the Messiah, the Christ; we should lead others to Him. 

He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him…

He is fulfillment of the Old Testament; we should recognize Him. 

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write,

He is a historical Individual; we should believe His reality. 

…Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

He is an Israelite indeed with no guile; we should emulate His honesty. 

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!

He is Rabbi, the Son of God, the King of Israel; we should believe.

Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.  Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.

He is the Son of man; we should worship Him.

And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

 

The Great Commission


slide-02“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

The above verse, usually called “The Great Commission,” is not ambiguous.

However, we are.

We Christians have a tendency to try to urge others to fulfill that verse while excusing ourselves from the command.

I am going to focus on just one of the excuses we give as to why the Great Commission does not apply to us.

It is the one we either state or imply about our lives not being “together enough spiritually” to be a good example to others.

We give ourselves unlimited time to “reform” before we will launch out as a gospel witness.  Meanwhile, we figure our Pastor and other truly spiritual people have the Great Commission covered.

Only . . . our country, here in the U.S., keeps moving more and more into the post-Christian mode.  There is no strong gospel witness happening.

In fact, at least half of the born again Christians in the U.S. seem to have believed the teaching that we should only engage in “lifestyle evangelism” without naming the name of Christ.  This teaching gains disciples for human beings, not for Jesus.  Really!

While sanctification in our lives is very important (and is the subject of numerous other posts), waiting to witness till we feel we have hit some predetermined level of spirituality is not wise nor is it obedient to our Lord, who died for us.

Remember, the Samaritan woman in John 4 won her entire town to Christ before she, presumably, was able to sit down with her significant other (the man with whom she was living out of wedlock) and work out an exit strategy from their sinful relationship.

The gospel of the Lord is greater than all of our sins.  We sing that.  Do we believe it enough to move forward sharing that gospel with a dying world, even while letting God shine His light on our sins and help us grow in sanctification?

 

The Plea, The Plan, & The Promise


untitledMatthew 11:28-29: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

For at least forty years I have offered (with tongue in cheek) my fellow believers my message outline, The Plea, The Plan, and The Promise. Actually I never had such a message but always offered the outline. Today, for the first time, I will share with you my outline.  These are wonderful verses, and, as usual, a close look results in a blessing.

The Plea: “Come unto me” These words in context are spoken to those who saw and experienced but did not believe. Today Jesus calls you sinner friend to come unto Him.  There is no reason to run any longer with those who want to destroy you.  Jesus wants to build your life.  Saint of God, if you have tasted the sweet milk of heaven and have turned away, He says, Come unto me.  You will notice He says, all ye.  You can’t say you weren’t invited to come and dine!

The Plan: “Learn of Me” Here we find an invitation to learn of the Creator.  What a challenge! What a blessing!  No longer will it be the simple ideas of man but the spoken Truth of the one who made man. It will no longer be the “hope so or maybe so” of man but the eternal Truth of God.  I have been saved for fifty years and I can still remember when I learned the truth of Romans 8:28.  God’s truth does not grow old or cold. We do.  Maybe your heart is cold today because you have laid aside some precious truth from the Word. It is time to “break up your fallow ground” (Hosea 10:12).

The Promise: “Ye shall find rest” Is that just what are you seeking in your life?  There may be many different answers, but they would all add up to peace and rest.  God promises rest for your soul.  His promise is for now and for eternity.  What more could you want.  We are warned in Matt 6:19 of the moth and rust  that doth corrupt, and then there are the thieves to steal your riches.  No one can corrupt or steal the “rest” that God gives His children and promises to the sinner.

I don’t know if you are a saint or sinner today, but I am excited to offer you His Plea, His Plan, and His Promise and much more. Take a look at verse 30, and see the words easy and light. Today is your day for a decision.  (Call us today at Tabernacle Baptist Church 757-424-4673.)

 

 

Homecoming


Go_back_home_by_PansaSunavee

home: The place of origin or residence, to which people feel attached and where they belong.

Yesterday was our annual “Homecoming Service.” We had a great day of music and preaching (by Pastor Baker). Most notable however, was the attendance of many out-of-towners. People who have moved away because of jobs, retirement, or other various happenstances of life migrate back to tiny Eden, NC, every year on the 2nd Sunday in November. They are here for a specific reason. It isn’t for the music or preaching. The feast of great food afterward isn’t what draws them. They are coming home.

John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 

As I looked around at the people yesterday, some I knew and some I met for the first time, I thought of the great homecoming that awaits those who are in Christ. I have had the privilege to meet and know some wonderful servants of God in my time here; people who, unless God intervenes, I will never see again. For various reasons–missionary work, deployments, reassignments–we occupy different corners of a broken world. Some have graduated to Heaven or soon will.

Jesus’ words paint, for me, a comforting portrait of what yesterday was a small sample. We will be united with God and Christ. We will be free from pain and death. But, not least of all, we will again enjoy the warm embrace of dear friends that time and space once separated. For now, we press on in our sometimes lonesome outposts, ambassadors for a foreign King, looking to the day when we are gathered in Glory, in the place He is preparing, at that great homecoming in the air. It is all of grace.

In Everything Give Thanks!


imagesI Thessalonians 5:18

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

It’s easy to give thanks when things are going well, when things are going right…when you have enough money for bills, when the cars are running smoothly, when everyone is healthy, and the list can go on and on. Why is it SO hard to give thanks in everything? In times when there’s not enough money, when a car is down for the count, when someone you love is sick…it seems the old saying, “When it rains, it pours” is applicable when “everything” is wrong. Why when one thing is “wrong” do we have a hard time giving thanks? I know for myself, it’s in my attitude…the verse above says that giving thanks for ALL things is actually part of the will of God for my life. The trials – however big or small – God sends my way are opportunities for me to see His goodness, for me to share that goodness with others, and for me to grow in the goodness of my Lord. I’m finding when I’m overwhelmed with everything that if I stop and thank God for being who He is, my outlook on the thing(s) that is so hard to give thanks for, seems so insignificant!  Your “trial” is no doubt different than mine…but our God is the same, and, my friend, that in and of itself, is something to give thanks about.

Everything Has to Do With Bringing Souls to Him


untitled“When we skirt a forest we see at intervals, where by some accident of growth the light falls upon a narrow space, a miniature world of life and loveliness of every kind, suggesting what might happen if every square yard of the forest could receive a similar illumination. Every day of that wondrous life of Christ may have been equally full of meaning to some souls.” – The Pulpit Commentary

As we see in John 4 as Christ witnesses to the Samaritan woman, it was no accident that Christ met her that day. As a matter of fact, Christ, in his omniscience, saw that day many years back.

We see in John 4:4-6 that Christ purposely went through Samaria and to the well which was on a piece of land that Jacob had purchased more than 1,500 years earlier in Gen 33:18-19:

18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.

Later this same piece of land on which the well would of been was given to Joseph, Jacob’s son, as we see in Joshua 24:32:

32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.”

We can ask ourselves what is the significance of Jacob buying the land, and what does it have to do with Christ that day? I see it as that 1,500 years prior to Christ meeting this lady in John 4 and really before the foundations of the world, Christ knew that Jacob’s well would be the place where souls would come to know him.  That well and the water in it started a conversation that changed this woman’s life and because of her witness brought many more souls to Christ over the next two days there in Sychar.  See, everything that God ever has done, does, and will do is to bring glory to Himself and souls into the kingdom.  We need to be more like Christ though and see every situation as an opportunity to win a soul and to remember to use our surroundings as a starting point if we have nothing else.  The weather, an outfit, a vehicle, a child are just a few things that could be conversation starters that lead into an inquiry about a soul.  It is all about Him, and it is all about us bringing souls to Him!

John 20:31- 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

 

When Things Don’t Go the Way We Expected


imagesRecently, I heard a missionary wife give a challenge concerning the difficulty of a missionary’s life as things don’t always go according to “the plan” that we have for our lives. I think that it could be said of all people that things don’t always go according to our plans.  My heart was challenged by a few simple truths that will help me face the outcome of God’s plans for my life when they don’t turn out the way I expected them to.

  • Be thankful.

I Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Even when things are not going my way, I must be thankful for what the Lord is doing in my life. I don’t know what is best for me, so I have to trust God to know what is best for me.  He doesn’t send me anything that is BAD for me, so I need to be thankful for ALL that He sends my way even when it “messes up my plans.”

  • Be content.

Philippians 4:11 – “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” When plans change to something unexpected, I need to learn to be content.  Paul was clearly content as he wrote these words from a prison cell!  Would you be content if you were chained in a prison for no substantial reason?  The plan doesn’t always work out, but I must learn to be content in the Lord.

  • Be on time for ministry opportunities.

Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Some days seem impossible when the task of serving our Lord and following His plan lie before us.  It would be easy when plans change to throw in the towel and find an easier path to follow.  However, if I am late in the ministry opportunities that God has planned for me, I will miss the rejoicing that comes along with pleasing Him with my service.

How are your plans going? Don’t let a change in plans sway you from your goal – Please the Lord first and foremost!  He will work out the plans for your best and for His glory!