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!

His Way is Perfect


untitledPsalm 18:30

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

 

His way is perfect! What an encouragement in a crazy, messed up world! What a source of peace when all around is spinning out of our control. His way is perfect! God has a perfect plan for each or our lives, and He has the power to accomplish that plan in and through us. How exciting that we can rest in the fact that God has everything under control!

He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him! God is our shield. All we have to do is trust in Him, and He will protect us from the evil around us. Amidst the uncertainties of life and the daily battles we must face, how wonderful to remember that we do not have to worry about anything. God is in control, and even when we do not understand, we can trust that God’s way is always perfect!

The Much Greater Question


untitled            See how Moses introduces Edom’s royal dynasties: . . . these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel (Genesis 36:31).  While the Israelites were slaves in a strange land (Egypt), the Edomites were well-settled in their own land.  Are we never tempted to complain:  “Why do secular institutions so often succeed and Christian institutions so often struggle?”  But that is not the real question.  The real question is:  “Which nation has a nobler heritage and greater destiny: Edom or Israel?”

All the kingdoms of the world are merely the scaffold for the building of the kingdom of God.  When the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15), and the scaffold will come down.

It takes time to build the kingdom of God – but it’s worth it.  When God grows a squash, He takes three months; when He grows an oak, He takes three hundred months and three thousand winds.  You’re worth it!

The Heart of Conflict in Homes


thFor, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.  (Galatians 5:13-15)

We have found that conflict in homes is usually not about love. When families are in conflict, we ask them if they love one another, and they affirm wholeheartedly that they do.  Conflict is all about reactions to each other which are less than pleasing to our Savior. Families often follow their old nature, rather than God’s Truths.

The heart of conflict in homes is all about the heart. Keeping the heart right with God will reduce much of the conflict.  Serve one another with love by building up each other rather than tearing down (Ephesians 4:29).  Follow the Golden Rule which is heralded by business and education alike.  Treat others like you would want them to treat you.  This is part of the godly communication that needs to be present in homes.

Speech was both created by God and cursed by God. God hates evil speech (Proverbs 6:16-19).  Blame shifting was paramount in the first home as Adam blamed Eve when God confronted him about his sin.  Eve turned around and blamed the Serpent.  In today’s homes, sometimes a parent will even blame a child for their own bad choices or reactions. God condemns the wrong use of the tongue (Matthew 12:36).  Taking responsibility for the right use of the tongue is commanded by God (Colossians 4:6).

Two people can choose to get along even if they are not believers. Some unbelievers have chosen to be compatible because it is more practical for them.  Many believers have changed the atmosphere in their homes by choosing to use the tongue for blessing rather than attacking.  Many times the problems remain unsolved because bad communication adds to the problem rather than solves it.  One time I announced to a wife who was verbally attacking her husband in our office that he was not the problem.  She immediately thought I felt she was the problem, and I replied that she was not the problem either.  When asked to identify the problem, the husband stated that it was the wrong things that they did to each other that caused their problems.

Many times conflict is over who is going to be in control and manipulation is greatly in use. Christ should be in control of our communication, and He gives us good instructions to follow for godly communication. Some choose control without being the leader or follower because they have a problem with God’s Plan and authority. Some individuals either do not know how to use Biblical Principles to help them have good relationships or will not allow God to help them in their relationships.

God has answers to conflict and can bring unity to homes if individuals are willing to follow His plans rather than do what comes naturally for one reason or another. Speech is also redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ.  Speech has great power and value and needs to be used to build up others and please God in doing so.

Nevertheless . . .


 

images

Luke 5:4-9

This was Peter’s response in Luke 5 to the Lord’s direction to launch out and let down your nets for a draught. How often do we, like Peter, use God’s Word or His leading as a “last resort”? Peter stated, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless. . . Peter’s emphasis seemed to have been on what they had done – we have toiled all night. Humanly, they had done all they could do, but look at the result when they resigned to Divine intervention! They had such success that they had to call for help. They had such a catch that their nets break, and their ships began to sink. Then we see the real character of Peter. He was so convicted by his unbelief that he fell at Jesus’ knee and repented of his sin. We have all been like Peter at times – nevertheless, Lord, and then were astonished at His abundant blessings. So let’s also be like Peter and repent of our lack of faith and disbelief.

What Motivates You to Serve?


imagesII Corinthians 5:14-15

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Some people may wonder why a missionary would “give up everything to go serve God in another country.” The only answer I have for this type of question is found in II Corinthians 5:14-15.  It is the love of Christ that constrains me or compels me to follow His will for my life.  Notice it doesn’t say that my love for Christ is what compels me to serve Him.  It is His love for me displayed in His sacrificial death on Calvary that compels me to live, not for myself, but for the One Who gave Himself for me!  When we see this Scripture as it is written and understand that God gave everything for me, how can I do anything less than serve Him with my life?  For me, that service involves leaving what is seemingly comfortable and convenient here in the USA to serve the Lord in England where He has called me to serve.  For you, it is probably completely different.  The question is not where you will serve the Lord, but rather, what will motivate, constrain, or compel you to serve the Lord?  Is His love enough to compel you to stop living for yourself and live for Him?  Consider Calvary and His sacrifice the next time you are tempted to live unto yourself!