Joyfully we are looking forward to Revival March 26 – 29. In order to have a fruitful time we will need to be like the man with the five tallents in Jesus’ Parable of the Tallents. He put his tallents to work and had much fruit to lay at the Master’s feet. He was truly a faithful servant who had done well. Let’s do the same with our Revival preparation. Here is how we can see much fruit. 1. Indentify, pray for and engage five unchurched or dechurced people. 2. Spend time in the prayer room praying for yourself and your Five. (Make sure you sign up for a time slot.) 3. Clear your schedule and commit to being at every service. 4. Ask God to reveal to you any sin in your life that is keeping you from reflecting His glory and the church from being fruitful. 5. Pray for blinders to be removed from the eyes of the lost. 6. Pray for the Revival Team: Mitch Osborne, Bryan Cirlot and Jennifer Ruffin. By being intentional in these things we will see a great harvesting of the fruit of God.
Sometime in March of 1997 I preached my first message at Ridglea. My dad had
just passed away and God had made it clear to me that He was sending me to
Ridglea Heights Baptist Church to be their Pastor. The church did not yet know
this and it would be another six months before they would extend a call to me to
come and pastor. In that time God had given me a vision of what He wanted. I
even still have the card in my desk where I wrote this:
200 in Sunday School
2 Morning Worship Services 100 in Discipleship
An educational building Outreach to the community Zero debt
We have crossed the 200 mark about twice in the past and now we are fast
approaching it as the new weekly average. We have two morning services, some
days full. Many weeks there are more than 100 in disciple making classes and
we have a very beautiful and well-used multipurpose building. We did make it
zero debt but soon thereafter built the new building. In numerous phases we
have made new education spaces as well as increased parking by about 400%.
But we are not through yet!
God has called us to make disciples who make disciples. As we do we are
growing numerically and spiritually by leaps and bounds. In the early days I
would sometimes say, “I want to be at a bigger church. I want Ridglea to be that
bigger church.” Now it is! Please pray with me. We desperately need funds to
finish the three classrooms currently under construction. Then we are going to
need nearly a million dollars to build a new sanctuary in the very near future. God
has a very big vision for His church at Ridglea. Let’s pray, make disciples and be
missionaries. Know that God will build His church and the gates of Hell will not
“For we walk by faith, not by sight, and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:7-8
Oh how I wish everything was how it ought to be; but it isn’t. By God’s design it is this way. My body don’t work like it should, my mind don’t remember like it ought and my soul even seems to dose off from time to time while I go through the motions of life. But thanks be to God for His great mercy and wonderful grace.
Our bodies are temporary. We know they will wear out but because God placed the Holy Spirit in us we look forward to the day we put on a new Heavenly body designed to never wear out, a body free of disease, dismemberment and damage. By making our goal to be pleasing to the Lord and not to avoid death we live a perpetual state of hope and blessed God given joy. We know that one day we will stand in His presence at the Judgment Seat of Christ in confidence. We will be without fear even though we know our lives were full of sins of commission and omission (we should have but didn’t or we did but ought not have). On that day we will be confident in the work of Christ, not self! So, in the mean time we just live life for God’s glory striving daily to walk in a way that shows our love for Him and each other.
Jesus died for all people so that they could receive the Holy Spirit as a down payment of better things beyond the grave. Since we know and understand this we don’t seek to check off a to do list before we die. Rather we seek to please God from day to day living by faith and not by sight knowing that being connected to Christ is enough for now.
I challenge you to step away from your routine today and do something out of the ordinary and be reminded that this world is God’s gift to you even if it is flawed. Look at God from a new vantage point and you will see that He is an Awesome God.
Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) There is a big difference between faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and faith in faith. Faith in faith will always prove to be faulty when times of trial come. Faith in Jesus as Lord knows that at the center of the Gospel is the truth that every person’s flesh must be destroyed so that the Spirit of Jesus may thrive in the believer’s heart and soul. Prayer is the weapon that a follower of Jesus clings to long before battles are fought. One great example is Peter. As a younger follower of Jesus he boasted in his faith. When Jesus told the disciples that He must die in Jerusalem Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him saying, “this will never happen” (Matthew 16:21-25). Then once Peter’s self-confident faith found him sinking quickly into the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-23). On another occasion Peter said, “I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!” (Luke 22:33) Just a few hours later Peter had denied Jesus three times. Satan has a God given ability, power and permission to take down any disciple at any time. That is why Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The reason God allows this is so followers of Jesus will have no reason to have faith in their flesh. When Jesus took Peter, James and John on the Mount of Olives the night He would be arrested He told them to, “pray so that you won’t fall into temptation” (Luke 22:40). They did not pray; they fell into temptation. Prayer is the key to walking through temptation and on into obedience. Faltering faith will follow prayerlessness. Daily pray that your walk will not lead you into temptation and ask to be delivered from evil. The result will be the yield of your flesh to the Spirit of Jesus. Faith in your faith will become a past learning experience and faith in Jesus will cause you to stand on the rock of Jesus Christ. When the storms of life come your house will not collapse.
“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 3:18a
“Out with the old and in with the new” is the cry of New Year’s Eve. It’s really a good thought if you think about it. Last year is in the past and you can’t change it, but next year has not yet been so you can do quite a bit about that which is yet to come! While thinking and planning for 2017 make your Spiritual Disciplines a priority.
Spiritual disciplines are behaviors that shape your spiritual growth and enable you to become more like Christ. They develop our inner being by hastening our transformation from sinner to saint. These disciplines are habits that prepare our hearts to let God’s grace change us for the good. At salvation the Holy Spirit began a work in us that is leading us away from selfish sinful behavior towards selfless God like behavior. By intentionally making changes to our routines we can create new habits that will allow God’s grace to renew our thinking which will shape our future behavior.
Here are a few Spiritual Disciplines you may choose to develop this New Year:
1) Solitude with God – pull back from the fast paced world of distractions and focus your time on the One who created you and loves you most, Jesus. Schedule time for Him daily.
2) Memorization of Scripture – by putting God’s Word in your heart you will find substantial time during your day to meditate on the Scripture that you have imprinted on your brain. The more you have committed to memory the more the Spirit will reveal to you by His grace.
3) Abstain from any activity that is keeping you from finding rest in God – (tobacco, porn, food, alcohol, etc.) anything that brings comfort to our soul that is not of God is an idol.
4) Pray through your day before your day starts - by the Spirit and the Word, God will impart wisdom that you need for today before today happens, but it requires that you go to Him in prayer before you actually engage in your day.
5) Fasting from food – throughout the Bible you read of those who sought the Lord through fasting. In order to go without food your body will require your mind to focus on your source of strength that comes not from yourself but God. Fasting brings urgency to prayer and it allows you to see the answers to many prayers are a very short length of time.
Develop disciplines in 2017 and you will end the year much more like Christ than you began. You will also feel much better about who you are as a person. God loves you and so do I.
“Everyone should look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others.”
Christmas is approaching very quickly and it will be here in less than a month. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already come and gone. Stores are open extra hours and retail sales are expected to exceed $579 billion, according to some estimates. The average household will spend between $200 and $500 per child with many exceeding this range by substantial amounts. Is it any wonder that with each passing generation individuals are getting more and more selfish? When I was a kid Christmas was exciting and receiving a gift was a special thing. Nowadays the gift is everything. This extreme selfishness in gift giving and receiving is one of the effects of the fall of humanity.
Why do you give gifts? I find that at Christmas the motive for gift giving often falls into one of three categories: (1) to make yourself happy. The main reason you spend time and money on the gift is so you will hear them say, “Aw! It’s just what I wanted.” Then you feel good about yourself and you just know they love you. (2) Is the, “I give good stuff so I’ll get good stuff.” You have come to the conclusion that people give to you in equal proportion to what you have given them. You give so you will get and be happy. Each of these motives always falls short of true lasting happiness, which brings me to reason (3) you give to reflect God’s glory.
The greatest gift ever given was when God gave Jesus to the world so that He could provide atonement for sin, so that a hopeless people could find hope. Philippians 4:13 says, “For it is God who is working in you enabling you both to desire and work out His good pleasure.” As a follower of Jesus God is enabling and using you to point people to God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. Unfortunately Satan through misplaced gift giving and receiving has blinded the eyes of people.
I urge you this Christmas don’t spend much time thinking about your own interests rather use your God given resources and love for others to give a gift that will reflect the love of God. After all, “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).