Monday, October 29, 2018

The Lord Knows Those Who are His


If you’re following along in the Devotion and Prayer Guide in the bulletins each week, the bible readings suggested will get you through the bible in a year.  And if you’re doing them each day, you will have read 2 Timothy 2 yesterday.

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, bearing this inscription: The Lord knows those who are his,[a] and let everyone who calls on the name of[b] the Lord turn away from wickedness.
2 Timothy 2:19 CSB

First, looking at the context, we’re told that there is a foundation, God’s solid foundation, that stands firm, that can never be shaken, and that there are words inscribed on the foundation.  The first, is that the Lord knows who are his.  The Lord knows.  Those names are written in the book of life.  God knows.  We don’t really know.  We can try to judge, we guess by their involvement in church, their service to others, the things they do, but we can never know who belongs to the Lord.  But rest assured.  The Lord knows.

The NIV treats the second part of that verse, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness, as a second quote, but there’s no reference for it.  CSB doesn’t treat it as a quote, but has the same words.  Regardless of whether it’s a quote from the OT or not, it is a command as far as Paul is concerned, and that’s what he’s telling Timothy here.

So we can’t know those who belong to the Lord, but we can guess because those who belong to the Lord turn away from wickedness.  This is a reminder for you tonight that you need to turn away from wickedness.  I don’t know if there’s something you’re struggling with that’s holding you back from really experiencing God, or not.  I don’t know if there is sin, or some kind of wicked, that is keeping God from really working in your life or not.  But the command from Paul to Timothy is that the Lord knows who are his, so we better turn away from wickedness. 

On the other hand, this command also helps us guess who might belong to the Lord.  If we are serious about growing in our faith, and getting closer to God, to really having the relationship we hear about, then we should be looking for Godly people that we can spend time with, that we can learn from, just glean a little about how to live life from.  And when we’re looking for a Godly mentor, we can look to someone who has turned away from wickedness.  If you see any wicked in them, then don’t follow them. 

Paul makes it a little easier for us turn away from wickedness and find others who have also turned away, by giving us a little more in verses 22-24, to help show us what this type of wickedness looks like, “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach,[a] and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness.”

He tells us that youthful passions are evil, righteousness, faith, love, peach and purity are not.
Getting involved in foolish and ignorant disputes and quarrels is wicked, gentleness, patience, and a teaching spirit are not.

So be careful who you learn from.  Flea from those who argue, gossip, and cause disputes.  Flea from those who give in to youthful passions.  And make sure you yourself are lining up okay here.  Reflect on this and look for areas you might need God’s Spirit to correct.  Spend time on developing righteousness, be people of faith, love and purity.  Because we know that those who belong to the Lord do these things.

And most of all make sure you’re pursuing a relationship with Jesus.  Make sure you belong to him.  Believing in him doesn’t mean you believe that he existed, but that you believe he is your savior, your only hope in a world gone mad.  Cling to him, because if you want the Lord to know you are his, you must truly live as one of his.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

God's Omnipotence and Omnipresence

Food for thought...

Last Sunday we had a visitor in services.  After service he came forward and introduced himself and told me he had his sister's ashes in the car.  He asked if I could bless them, and I agreed.  I prayed for him, asking for help with the grieving process, asking for God's peace and joy to return.  I also prayed for God's grace and mercy for this sister's soul.  considering she had passed away quite some time ago, I wondered if that part of the prayer was a little late.

In my time of reflection later, I got to thinking about that.  Since God is everywhere at the same time, and since He knows all things, and is even outside of time, could God have heard my prayer when his sister passed away?  Could God have been aware of my petition when his sister appeared before the judgment seat?  Could there be no such thing as a late prayer?

I would love to hear your comments on this. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sermons from WFB: Chosen to be Loved

This week we are starting a five-week series titled Chosen. This series looks at five different passages that highlight Jesus’ pursuit of those many would label “outcasts.” In the series, we’ll be discussing characters like Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, a leper, and the thief on the cross. In each of these situations, Jesus often goes out of His way to reach those who are left out. To Jesus, these individuals are not outcasts, they are chosen. His love is extravagant and relentless.

After hearing the religious leaders grumble about his attitude toward sinners, Jesus tells three parables that illustrate God’s extravagant love for the lost. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or how far we’ve wandered; God chooses us and is actively pursuing us to come back to Him.

Listen to the message here...

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sermons from FBC: Clean Break: A look at relationships from Philemon

This week we it's part 2 of our two week series from the book of Philemon.  It's a short book, but Paul has some good stuff concerning relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

Listen to part two here...


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sermons from FBC - Clean Break: A look at relationships from Philemon

This week we are starting a new series from the book of Philemon.  It's a short book, so it will be a short series, but we'll look at what Paul has to teach us about relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love.

Listen to part one here...

Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Monday, April 30, 2018

Living at Peace


If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

We’ve been hearing a lot about trying to live at peace with each other lately.  From messages on how to handle conflict to a couple on forgiveness and reconciliation.  Now this idea of living at peace.  I hope that we all know the importance of forgiveness, even Jesus commands that if we don’t forgive that person we are in conflict with, we won’t be forgiven.  But understanding the need for forgiveness, and knowing how to get there are sometimes two very different things.  How do you bridge the gap and start talking again?

Last Tuesday I attended a conference that was put on be the Peacemaker Ministries.  This conference was hosted by the Central NY association of the Wesleyan Churches, but I was able to finagle an invitation, and it was a very good conference.  Peacemaker works with churches and corporations dealing with conflict.  I learned some tips on opening up some conversations, as well as a fairly simple process for achieving peace again.

First, let me point out that not all conflict is a bad thing.  Some conflict or tension is healthy.  It stretches us and grows us, gets us working together, and brings unity.  Other tension is unhealthy and creates division, causes disrespect, and pulls us apart, often involving sinful behavior.  Sometimes it’s possible to turn the unhealthy tension into healthy tension by just recognizing it before it gets too bad.  Rubber band principle.  If it’s unhealthy, it can be made healthy, up until it snaps.

Once it snaps, there are four steps to resolving conflict.  Story – Ascend – Reflect – Connect.

Story – everybody has a story.  Find out what their story is, let them talk.  If you’re at odds, I can almost guarantee that they don’t see things the same way you do.  So let them tell you how they see it.  Let them take as long as they need, start back as far as they need, and don’t interrupt when they tell their story.  We all have different upbringings and different histories.  We all see things differently.  And it’s by understanding how they perceive things that will shed some light on the conflict.  Sometimes it’s helpful to write out the story, underline the basic facts that everyone agrees with, then circle the emotional memories, the statements that have their basis in emotion.  Find some common ground in the story, a place to build on.  You probably won’t find perfect unity, but common ground gives you a start point. 

Ascend – In the Ascend step, you go to God.  You find pertinent verses about God’s presence, His sovereignty, His character, and your identity and calling in Christ.  Pray together to find God’s purpose and calling.

Reflect – Personal reflection on the conflict should be aimed at finding where you need more understanding, to identify your blind spots, what are you missing, what are you contributing to the conflict, what can you overlook and leave at the cross, and what needs to be dealt with.  How can you walk humbly, love mercy, and act justly, in this conflict?

Connect – The connect step is where you work together with the one you’re in conflict with to find a way to move forward again.  There are steps here:  Asking, confessing, seeking, and forgiving.  Ask how you have hurt them, confess using I statements, seek forgiveness from the other person, and truly forgive them, entrusting your pain to God, and giving up any desire for vengeance, any bitterness and resentment, and showing them grace. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Do you have vision?

Without vision people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy.
Proverbs 29:18 (HCSB)

This passage is always a good guide. It reminds us a little of our purpose on earth as
believers and as followers of Jesus. The word vision isn’t referring to physical sight, but
spiritual sight. It’s where God is calling us to be involved in His work. 

The word is sometimes translated as revelation or purpose. Seeing the word translated as purpose reminds us that the vision we are talking about is the purpose we are here, it’s what we are supposed to be doing. It’s where our focus ought to be. When we have a clear vision, it helps us understand what we should be doing. Every new idea, every ministry we participate in, literally everything we do should be consistent with our vision and help us achieve our vision.

Seeing the word translated as revelation reminds us that it is God who gives us our vision. God reveals to us through His Word, or through a divine touch, what ought to be important to us, where we ought to be focused. And not only churches and organizations should have a vision, but I think every person who follows Jesus should have a vision.

Our personal vision is a word from God, a revelation that gives our life and ministry with Jesus some direction and guidance. Not every believer can be involved in every ministry the church is involved in. But you should look to your personal vision to see which ministries the church is involved in that you should personally be involved in. Your vision is your guide – be involved in those ministries that help you achieve your personal goals, your personal vision.

At First Baptist Church we have a few statements that make up our mission and vision. These will be reviewed and revised in the coming months, but these are our guide now. Our vision at First Baptist is:
Making Christ known in the Twin Tiers and the world.

As a church, everything we do should be focused on this mission. God has called us to make disciples, and everything we do as a church should be focused on achieving that goal. Every board should be working toward achieving that vision.

We’ve gotten a little sideways in the last couple of years. Our focus has been taken off of our vision. But I believe that our boards are ready to move forward. I know that I am. And together, as we Make Christ known in the Twin Tiers and the world, we will be serving God and focused on the mission He has for us. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and the vision He has given you.

The Lord Knows Those Who are His

If you’re following along in the Devotion and Prayer Guide in the bulletins each week, the bible readings suggested will g...