Archive | November, 2014

TRUST IN GOD

30 Nov

Proverbs 3:5-6

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Have you ever noticed who gets to drive whenever Danna and I go someplace? Here is a hint: I am never in the drivers seat!  Never!

The main reason is because I’m not that great of a driver. Back in the day, I had quite a few tickets and had decided I wasn’t going to have anymore. My obvious defense mechanism was to drive below the speed limit and if you’re ever behind me, you know that I am pretty faithful at doing that.  Destinie Jones reminded me the other day that you CAN get a ticket for going too slow.

If you know my wife (or even if you know me and just consider the fact that she IS my wife), then you know she is an incredibly patient woman. But she is not very patient when I am behind the wheel.

So she drives.

Now, for a man, that is very difficult. Because we like to be in charge. Our gender is known for liking to be in the drivers seat. For wanting to be in control.

And even though, I have just acknowledged that she is the better driver, I will tell you that when I am in the passengers side, I am really good at telling her how to do it better.

Oh, I might not say a word (sometimes I do) but most of the time, I am grabbing the sissy bar right about the passenger side window, tapping on an emergency brake, or notifying her with hand signals that it’s time to turn.

Even though things are really out of my hands, I just can’t totally give up control.

We want so say (and some of you are, that this is a male thing) but the truth is one of the most difficult thing for any of us to do is to give up control to someone else and depend totally on that person to lead and guide us. The Word of God lets us know that we need to learn.

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

We need to learn to wait on Him and to trust Him. But at times it isn’t the most desirable thing to do, because waiting involves trusting.  And we all have trust issues to some degree. We live in a society that tells us to not be too trusting. In fact, it encourages just the opposite, doesn’t it? I mean, we have our lives guarded like Fort Knox with all the identity theft stuff.  Everything is sacred and nothing is ever given out. Nothing.  For us to put total control in the hands of anyone is highly unlikely. We are even scared to take our car to a mechanic unless we have signed a proper waiver, have a warranty, or know a good lawyer.

Trust is just not something that comes easily.  For any of us.

Oh, we might trust a little. But we WILL NOT trust completely.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been told “Sorry, Rick, I trust you completely but that’s one thing I won’t trust anyone with….”

So you don’t completely trust.

Sometimes it’s healthy.

I mean, after all, you wouldn’t give out your social security number or your credit card number to most people if any.

And that’s a good thing.

But there are many other issues where we don’t trust people completely.  It would be fair to say that except to maybe our most intimate partners, we don’t offer complete trust.

But yet this scripture doesn’t just demand partial trust or trust in some areas when it comes to God.

Let’s look at it again:

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Why should I trust Him? Some of us have even serious trust issues when it comes to God.

“Why should I trust Him?  He took my loved one!  Why should I trust Him? He didn’t save my marriage? Why should I trust Him?  My electricity got turned off!”

Yet, it is not a cliché to say that God loves you. It is not just some old adage to say that He cares for you. It is not just some wives tale to say that He only wants the best for you.

I could go with the usual preacher mode and quote scripture to you to prove my point. I could tell you Jeremiah 29:11. I could tell you  how you are of more value than the sparrows to Him according to Matthew 10:31.

But here is the thing: If you’re having a hard time trusting God, you’re having a hard time trusting His Word.  And it puts me as a preacher in a real dilemma.

See, I believe that the Word of God is the ultimate authority. That it is true from beginning to end. To continue further, we have to establish that.

And you may disagree with me but follow me.  If that is not your authority, then what is?  Your heart? You and I both know that the heart is deceptive. I remember things in my life that I just had to have but then later, I look back and say “why did I even want that?”   For many kids in my day, it was parachute pants… those were the coolest, right?   Not for me, I was conservative even back then and stuck to my blue jeans and boots. But the kids who wore those back then? They are all 40 and older. See if  they will wear them now. No way! Why? Because their desire changed. Their heart changed.

But the Word of God has never changed. It has stood the test of time and is still the same today as it was when it was first written. What it said years ago, it still says. Many have tried to discredit it but have not been able to do so. It is still the ultimate bestseller.

No other book can claim that. No other piece of literature has ever had the same credibility.

Now, this isn’t a sermon on the authority of scripture.  But as I explain to you why you should trust God completely and totally in all things, I am going to use the Bible.   And so for that reason, it is necessary for everyone to understand that the Bible is not just an authority. It is THE authority.

So here are four reasons why you should trust him.

He’s Conscious- This means He’s aware. The word of God say’s in Matt 6:8 that our Heavenly Father knows what things we have need of even before we ask Him. Isn’t it good to know that we have a God that is omniscient or all knowing? That’s the first reason why you should trust Him, because He already knows everything about you. He knows the things about you that you don’t even know about yourself.  He sees the parts of you that you keep hidden from everyone else. And yet, He still loves you. This blows my mind!

We often think of God as some far off creature managing us from some control booth. But the truth is that He is right here in our presence and you are not some name on a list. He knows everything about you. He loves you anyway and He’s aware of you.

He’s Concerned- 1 Peter 5:7 says cast, which means to throw, your cares, anxieties and worries on Him because He cares about you. Yes He cares about you! Whatever concerns you concerns Him. So whenever you’re faced with problems, situations and obstacles that seem insurmountable just throw them on Him, He can handle them.

Oftentimes, I hear people afraid to share a prayer concern. They just think that the concern they are dealing with is so trivial.  They think that God has bigger things to deal with.

But go back to the fact that you are of more value than the sparrows to Him. He loves you.  And every time you hurt, He hurts. Yes, He sees the end result. He sees the bigger picture. He knows that it’s all going to be okay. He sees the light while we’re still in the dark.

But He never trivializes what we are feeling.

He is always concerned.

He’s Consistent- This means He’s faithful and you can also count on Him and trust Him to do exactly what He say’s He will do every single time, even if others let you down and or found to be unreliable I always tell people I’m going to let you down. I am human. I am full of sin. I am unreliable.  I am going to make decisions sometimes in a moment of weakness based on my own selfish desires and not what God has designed.

I will let you down.

Family will let you down.

Churches will let you down.

But God will never let you down.

You can always rely on Him.

1 Corinthians 1:9 say’s that God is faithful. So even we we are unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to us.

Isn’t that awesome?  I am so frequently inconsistent with Him but He is always consistent with me.

And finally, He’s Capable.

Ephesians 3:20 say’s that God is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we could ask or think according to the power that He works in us. This would suggest to us that nothing is too hard for God. Even if He chooses not to grant our request, He’s still capable of supplying our every need.

Daniel 3:17-18 tells the story of the three Hebrew children facing the fiery furnace. The king told them that all they had to do is bow down to a gold image and they would not be thrown in the fiery pit.

What was their answer?

17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up

Now, the ultimate end of the story is that they were delivered from the pit. AFTER they were thrown in.

I bet that the three Hebrew children would have loved if God had delivered before. Nobody relishes the idea of going into fire. Nobody.

But sometimes God wants to take us through the fire so He can help develop our character, make us stronger. It is a spoiled brat who never has to endure hardship. God sometimes takes us through it so that we can be stronger on the other side. Further, when He allows us to get ourselves into an impossible situation and then delivers us, it shows how awesome He is. It shows that He is capable.

What’s the answer to those issues that plague you day after day?

TRUST IN GOD

What’s the answer to those marital woes that won’t seem to go away?

TRUST IN GOD

What’s the answer to issues that are often unfortunately faced inside a church congregation?

TRUST IN GOD

What about that boy in class or that teacher who doesn’t seem to give you a break?

TRUST IN GOD

What about those parents that never understand you?

TRUST IN GOD

What about our culture, our declining morality, our corrupt government?

TRUST IN GOD!

Proverbs 3:-6proverbs

WELCOME TO FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF LILLIAN

2 Nov

When I first felt the call to ministry, I was only ten years old. I was already understanding, at even a young age, that the story of Jesus, the fact that He died on a Cross, was put in a tomb, and came back to life on the third day, had significant impact on the world. I was blown away with the fact that in Jesus was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only way to Heaven. I wanted to take that message to any and every place that I could.

As I grew in my faith, I knew that God was calling me to pastor a church. I came to see the church as the body of Christ and found  confirmation of that in I Corinthians 12:27. I believed with all my heart that God could bring up an army out of His churches to continue in the fight against Satan who has had such a hold on culture for many years. Good, biblical teaching and sound doctrine could ultimately change society because an army could rise up in the name of Jesus , be His body, and stand for Him.

But to be honest, nowadays I just want to quit.

I am tired. I am tired of seeing Satan take control of so many lives. I am tired of seeing families destroyed. I am tired of seeing evil made good.

Mostly, I am tired of watching culture redefine Christianity. And I’m sick to death of seeing Christians agree to those new definitions.  I am tired of being told that we need to look at things differently in order to please culture.  That unless we want empty churches, we needed to soften our views a little bit on some issues.

But that would be wrong. It would be wrong for me to quit. And it would be wrong for the church to change to accommodate the world around us.

I believe that the church is going through an identity crisis.  We are being told what we should be. We are being told how to act. We are being told how we should respond to different situations as they occur. In many cases, we are being told not to respond at all.  Many have chosen to respond in such a way as to pander to the world. The truth of the scripture has been watered down and there are specific world issues addressed in scripture that are not being preached on in some pulpits for fear of offending others.

And as a result, the influence of Scripture is disappearing from the world. In fact, it has become a punchline and the world sees us as irrelevant.

But you’re here. You’re here for whatever reason. Maybe you’re here because you earnestly believe in scripture and what Jesus can do with a life. You’re here because you want to grow closer to Him. You’ve tried life on your own and it hasn’t worked. In fact, it’s been a downright disaster. And you’re willing to give Jesus a chance because you’re out of options.

I don’t say any of that in condemnation.  More people come to Jesus and wind up in auditoriums like this all over the world for those very reasons.  But if you’re going to come into this particular building with these particular people being led by this particular Pastor,  I think that you need to understand what we stand for, what we are about, why we want you here.

So let’s proceed:

WELCOME TO FBC LILLIAN

Welcome to a church that stands on the truth of the Word of God.

First, we look at the Word of God revealed in scripture.

It is called the Holy Bible for a reason.  The words on the page come directly from God Himself.

Yes, I know that it was written by 40 different authors over a long period of time.

But I also know the truth of 2 Timothy 3:16.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness

Every single word in the Bible is inspired by a great and loving God.

We cannot take away parts of it. We cannot ignore it. God is not meant to be ignored and His Word is meant to be honored.

All of it.

There is a push today to discredit the Word of God.  To relegate it to nothing more than a book of fables, another interesting piece of literature.

And I’d love to tell you that this attitude is just from people who consider themselves to be atheists, who claim that God is not real.

But I had a conversation a few weeks ago while on a prison ministry weekend. A man who is an active member of his church looked at me across the table and said these words:

“The Bible was written 100 years ago.  Times have changed. It is not set in stone.”

If we adopt that attitude, then we have no authority on which to base our beliefs. We have no standard by which to govern our lives.   We are like a boat with a broken sail and our doctrine and ideals will change on a regular basis according to the ever changing winds of culture.

At FBC Lillian, you will hear the written Word of God taught without apology and without deviation.  We will teach it with conviction and reverence and respect for the One who inspired and dictated it so many years ago.

It is a lamp unto our feet as we travel through life according to Psalms 119:105.  There is no other way to guide us. And if you are looking for another way, if you don’t want the “Bible thrown at you”, then you’re in the wrong place. That’s not to say we don’t want you here because we do.  But we will never deviate from the Word of God to please you or to please ourselves.

And that’s not always fun.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword. Sometimes it cuts and exposes things about our life that are wrong, things that we don’t want to talk about… and things we don’t want to change.

There has been many a time that I have started to write a sermon and put it aside so that I could spend some time on my knees.  I find an inconsistency in my life… terrible stewardship, selfish husband, temperamental father, unforgiving spirit.. and I get real uncomfortable with what I am reading. I would just as soon go on believing that I got it all together, that there is nothing wrong with me, that any problems people have.. well, it’s their problem.

And then I pick up my Bible and it’s like looking in a mirror…and I don’t like what I see.

But because I believe the truth of the Scripture, I wind up on my knees (sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively) and have to ask God to fix what is broken and to change me into more of a person that He can be proud of, to make me a man after His own heart.

The world wants to change that.  They want to tell you that if you don’t like something in the Scripture, then just ignore it.  Relegate it from “The Divine, Holy, Inspired Word of God” to “an archaic book of fairy tales”. Then you don’t have to listen to it.

But to not listen to it means you don’t have to listen to God. You can ignore Him if you ignore the Bible. Because everything you initially understand about Him is in scripture. You cannot cling to the parts you like and throw away the parts you don’t.

So here at FBC Lillian, we will preach the Word of God in its entirety and with conviction.

But please don’t think that the Bible is just a big guidebook of where we are wrong and messed up.

Because that is not the case at all.

It is going to show us through the Holy Spirit where we are wrong and need correction. It has to do so because often we are arrogant and think that we can fix ourselves. Often, we try to make our own rules and find us flat on our face in defeat.

But after it shows us the inconsistencies and selfishness that is often our life, it also shows us the story of rememption.

While it is true that we are all sinners according to Romans 3:23 and that the price for sin is separation from God according to Romans 6:23, it also tells us the way to be free from having to pay that price.

(John 3:16)

Jesus loved us enough to die for us. He was not just an ordinary human as the world tries to tell you. He was God.  The Bible, which we have established as being inspired from a perfect God, gives credence to that.

John 1:1–“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:14–“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

He was the only one that could have paid the penalty for our sins. He is the only way to abundant life on earth and He is only way to eternal life in Heaven.

And that is what we as a church are about. If you come to FBC Lillian, you will hear about the saving power of Jesus Christ. You will hear that He is the answer. And everything we say and do is to point to Him.

We have Sunday School because we want you to hear from others the truth of what Jesus did on the Cross and how He is present throughout all of Scripture.

We have small groups so that in community, you can see others who have accepted the salvation of Jesus and hopefully, want it to be a part of your life as well.

We do Vacation Bible School so that we can teach the truth of what Jesus did on the Cross and have fun doing it so that the kids can hear it.

We do Thanksgiving in The Homesteads (coming up) so that we can give out free food, free gift cards, free clothing, and then once we have helped meet some of those needs, teach them about the One who provides eternal life.

And you will never hear a sermon when I am standing on this platform that does not end with some presentation and explanation about what Jesus did on the Cross.

We are about Jesus.   Totally and completely consumed with Him.  If you don’t want to hear Him talked about, you are definitely in the wrong building. But you are definitely welcome here anyway.

Because we want you to hear about Jesus.

And we want you to hear about the Jesus of the Bible and not the Jesus as constantly being defined and redefined by the world around us.

I get told all the time… “Don’t tell people their lifestyle is wrong, Pastor Rick. You just need to tell them Jesus loves them. If you keep harping on certain things,  there are people that won’t feel welcome here.”

This hurts me.

But I won’t stop.

Because I want you here.   I believe earnestly that Jesus loves you just as you are. He loves you utterly and completely and I do want you to know that.

I want you to know that there is no greater love in the world than the love that Jesus has for you.  John 15:13 makes it clear that greater love has no man than this, that He laid down His life for you.

But I want you to know that He did not die for your sins or for my sins so that we could stay in them.  He died to change our lives.

He loves you just as you are but His whole goal is to take you from where you are to where you need to be.

He wants to constantly take us, chip away at what is wrong, and replace it with what is right. He wants to make us holy and righteous. He wants us to experience everything He has to offer.

And to do that means that we have to go by the Word of God, accept what it says, accept His salvation, and be willing to walk according to what He wants and not what we want.

To be governed by His statutes and not by our emotions and feelings.

We may feel like being in an intimate relationship outside of marriage but the Bible calls that adultery and says it is wrong.

We may feel like a fetus is a mass of cells but the Bible says that it is a living being and therefore, abortion is wrong.

We may feel like that we ought to choose who we can love regardless of gender, but the Bible says that it is an abomination to God.

We do not say these things because we want to hurt or because we hate. We are not narrow minded and we are not bigots.

We are sinners who have experienced the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and we want you to see how He can change you as well.

In other words:

If you are one who is enjoying sex outside the context of marriage, we want you here.  We may not recognize you as a member until you are willing to admit it is wrong and embrace the power of Jesus, but we want you to attend. To be in our classes, to walk among us , to let us love you, because Jesus did. We want you to see how He can change you.

If you are one who is walking in the homosexual lifestyle, we want you here. We may not recognize you as a member until you are willing to admit it is wrong and embrace the power of Jesus, but we want you to attend. To be in our classes, to walk among us , to let us love you, because Jesus did. We want you to see how He can change you.

If you are one who is a horrible husband or messed up wife, we want you here. We may not recognize you as a member until you are willing to admit it is wrong and embrace the power of Jesus, but we want you to attend. To be in our classes, to walk among us , to let us love you, because Jesus did. We want you to see how He can change you.

If you are a rebellious child whose life at school is totally different from what your parents see at home, we want you here. We may not recognize you as a member until you are willing to admit it is wrong and embrace the power of Jesus, but we want you to attend. To be in our classes, to walk among us , to let us love you, because Jesus did. We want you to see how He can change you.

If you are a drug addict, alcoholic, one who has hurt children, we want you here. We may not recognize you as a member until you are willing to admit it is wrong and embrace the power of Jesus, but we want you to attend. To be in our classes, to walk among us , to let us love you, because Jesus did. We want you to see how He can change you.

And then once we see you come to the same realization that many of us have concerning the saving power of Jesus Christ, we want to walk with you as part of our family.

And we recognize that even after you come to Jesus, you may still fail, make errors, fall off the wagon. When that happens, we will not ostracize you or kick you out. As  long as you are willing to get back up  and pursue Jesus again, we want you here.

And we want you here to grow.

And you cannot grow by being sporadic.  The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:25 that we are to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. We cannot grow when we are only here when it is convenient. Jesus did not consider His convenience when going to the Cross for you. We should not only agree to worship and serve Him when it suits our schedule.

Many say “well, the church really isn’t doing anything for me. “ I want to say “Really? You mean the four times a year you attend don’t do anything for you?”

Want to grow in Christ? Be consistent ! Be here! And be part of our family!

Welcome to FBC Lillian.

Welcome to our church.

We are a church that believes in the authority of the Word of God.

We are a church that believes in the all consuming salvation of Jesus Christ.

And we are a church that wants you here, so that HE can change you… just as HE has changed us.

In this time of desperation

When all we know is doubt and fear

There is only one foundation

We believe, we believe

 

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the Crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s coming back again

We believe

 

So, let our faith be more than anthems

Greater than the songs we sing

And in our weakness and temptations

We believe, we believe

 

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the Crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s coming back again

We believe

 

Let the lost be found

And the dead be raised

In the here and now

Let love invade

Let the church live loud

Our God we’ll say

We believe, we believe

 

And the gates of Hell

Will not prevail

For the power of God

Has torn the veil

Now we know Your love

Will never fail

We believe, we believe

(words and music by the Newsboys)cross