Press On For Christ

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“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12)

Motivation has been defined as goal-directed behavior. When there is something we think we must have or achieve, we will endure much in our attempt to get it. Motivation is a mental surge that helps us get the job done, or achieve a difficult goal. As long as we set the goal motivation is not a problem. We find a way to overcome obstacles and press on even when it is difficult. But what if someone else sets the goal for you, such as, on the job, in the family, or participating in a group effort? Does God have expectations which require motivation on your part?

In the above verse, the apostle Paul is confessing to the church that he is in a constant effort to do the will of Christ. He was motivated by a strong inward desire to do God’s will in Christ. His passion to bring people to knowledge of Christ was fueled by the Holy Spirit. Paul understood that those things that mattered most in life were all related to his relationship to God as he served Christ. Read the book of Acts and you will find that Luke records multiple stories about how Paul found the strength and motivation to press-on in difficult circumstances.

When you reflect on this passage, consider how motivated you are to serve God. Are you too busy doing those things that give you a sense of satisfaction? Did you know that you could experience even more satisfaction when you do God’s will in your family, work place, church activities, and personal goals? We are willing to press-on to achieve personal goals, and we should be just as willing and motivated to press toward the high calling of God. Where does God’s will fit into your schedule and your goals?

I’ve prayed about it-now what? (part 1)

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Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NKJV)

You’ve prayed about your job, family, decisions, your health, and your purpose in life, but nothing seems to be happening—at least not fast enough and not exactly the way you envisioned the outcome. Does this mean that God is unfair, uncaring, and likes to see us suffer?

The scripture above is a bold statement to make, but since God inspired John to write it there must be something God wants us to know about prayer. The first thing to remember is that prayer is conditional upon our relationship to God. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”

God’s desire is to answer prayers. He is willing and able to hear your prayers, and His desire is to answer your requests.  However; if you have not confessed your sins (the Bible defines sin as God sees it ), and purposely turned away from your sins (or are steadfast in your heart to do so),  your prayers will be hindered.  Why should God answer your prayers if you are not one of His children (born again believer), or if you ignore Him and “do your own thing?”  God’s answer to your prayer may be to leave you alone and let you try to work things out for yourself.  Sometimes a Christian does need to “hit bottom” in the part of life that is causing pain and inconvenience before you can see what God is doing to shape you into someone who is stronger and wiser.

The best advice I have receive in my life is when I have talked with someone who has been through a troubling time similar to what I was experiencing at the time, and to see how they came out on the other side of the challenge a stronger, more mature Christian.  God has used His silence, my friends, my wife, and my observations of other as they journey through life to help me see the wisdom of what He is doing for me…not to me.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9.

To be continued….

What Really Happens at Christmas?

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Christmas is a wonderful time of year and should be celebrated as such.  The problem is that there are a few things that can sap the joy right out of the season.  Leading up to Christmas there can be a sense of anxiety about buying gifts and having money to finance Christmas.  Decisions are considered about who to buy for, whether or not to re-gift an item from last year, buying gifts for drawings at school, church, work place, and sometimes within the family.  Then there is the back and forth over where to have the Christmas meal, who to invite, and what to eat…and eat, and eat.  For months, Christmas decorations have been bought and who doesn’t enjoy that dreaded uncoiling of Christmas lights each year.  Do you have a Christmas tree in every room, or most rooms?  If you have more than one tree, you need prayer.  The Christmas shows are lined up and watched for the hundredth time, and there are the tear-jerker movies that always have a happy ending.  Then Christmas Eve arrives and the kids are determined to stay up and catch Santa in the act.  The big day arrives—Christmas day.  Over the years I have mentally timed how long it takes for the gifts to be opened and the meal eaten.  It usually averages about 30 minutes to an hour.  I know…someone had to wrap gifts and cook that over-abundant meal we love so much.  The wrappings, boxes, twist ties, and gift name tags are gathered up and put in the trash.  The food is eaten, but it still looks like nobody ate anything.  Naps are taken, kids fuss over playing with each other’s toys, and the hunters take off to get that deer.  By evening, everything settles down.  Everyone is tired, sleepy, and finally go to bed…except for the kids who are still fussing over the ownership of toys.  Grown-ups exchange gifts—and yes, wives, we husbands try to get you what you want.  However, after that one day, many people are disillusioned because many of their expectations were not met.  They were happy during the holidays, but as we all know, happiness is elusive and fleeting.  January comes and depression can rear its ugly head because of diminished joy, bills coming in the mail, and the rush of “Christmas adrenaline” is gone.  The real world comes back.

As you review all I described above, did you notice the most important aspect about Christmas that was omitted?  Christ.  The reality is that we can be guilty of relegating the birth of Christ to a lesser importance as we focus more on buying gifts and eating a big meal.  Think about this.  God, who dwells in a timeless eternity, came to earth to be born as a helpless baby and live in this world He created, but He did because we needed a Savior.  Sin to our soul is like food laden with salmonella, or succulent looking fruit that is rotten on the inside when we take a big bite.  It taints everything in our life.  To us it is that burden and weight conflicting with our soul that we can’t get rid of.  The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ is one event in the Bible.  We are saved from eternal death when we “confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in our heart that God (Jesus) raised Himself from the dead.” (Reworded from Romans 10:9-10)  I’ll ask you two questions that I first saw in a book many years ago called, “Evangelism Explosion.”  (1) Have you ever made a decision for Christ where you know that if you died right now you are assured to enter heaven?  (2) Suppose that you died today and you are standing before God and He asks you, “Why should I let you into My kingdom?” What would your answer be?  You need to have a talk with God and ask Him into your heart, mind, and soul as your Savior.  Don’t assume you are going to heaven when you can know for sure.  Follow the link in the next paragraph.  The information will guide you as you consider making your decision to know Christ today, before Christmas.  I am sure you will then experience joy like you have never had and you will finally have the peace in your soul for which you have so desperately searched.  Christmas will finally have meaning for you.

Click HERE to learn more about how to know Christ as your Savior, and have a Merry Christmas!

You are cordially invited to attend worship at 1st Baptist Church Sanford, Alabama this Sunday.  Christmas day our services will be at 10am.  Our Sunday Services are 10am-Bible Study, and 11am-Worship Service.  Click the Tab on the main page and learn about our church.

Merry Christmas!

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

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“Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ–I who am humble among you in person but bold toward you when absent. I beg you that when I am present I will not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are behaving in an unspiritual way. For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an nonspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:1-5 HCSB)

I am sure you are aware that the title of this entry comes from the oath we would take in a court of law. We are cautioned by this oath to tell the truth, yet, sadly, that does not seem to apply when a Christian tells the truth about sin and the consequences of rejecting the offer of forgiveness that Christ has made possible. The Supreme Court of the United States, issued a majority opinion about same-sex marriage. The LGBT minority is rejoicing in this unfortunate ruling with no regard for what it means spiritually. Christians have been labeled bigots, intolerable, and haters by the LGBT community, as well as other organized anti-Christian groups. The day has come for Bible-believing Christians to be bold in the belief that the Word of God is the final word on the truth about sin-not the courts.

Never before in the history of our nation has such a blatant dismissal of God’s truth been so direct and open. There are many who say that Christians are intolerant. It is God Who is intolerant of sin and Christians are rightfully on the side of God in this. Supreme Court rulings do not change God’s law and people will still die in their sins if they do not trust Christ as Lord and Savior. Christians do not hate the LGBT community or any other persons who hold such strong, albeit, wrong beliefs. We Christians fear for the unrepentant soul of these individuals. Satan certainly is behind this and is also rejoicing. The Bible is clear that to become a Christian the person must be drawn by the Holy Spirit to conviction of sin according to God—not us, while repenting (changing how one thinks) from all sin. If a person is drawn to the place where they want to make a decision for Christ and he/she does not choose to or want to confess and turn away from all sin—thoughts and actions–then that person cannot be saved-no matter how much they think they can.

The passage of scripture above is Paul’s way of saying that God can demolish the strong hold that sin has on one’s life. God loves every person on this earth, but unfortunately many people shackle themselves to choices, behaviors, and ungodly, ideological ideals, and will not choose to accept His grace and mercy and be saved for all of eternity. The Bible describes this as a stronghold. What is your morality and value system based on? As you read this, if you are bound by the stronghold of hatred toward any person who is not a Christian-especially those of the LGBT community-then you are wrong and need to reaffirm your Christian values. I am saddened by the ruling, but God is still where He has always been. Christ will still save anyone who truly believes in Him, repents (turns away) from sin as God defines it, and accepts Him as Lord (boss) and Savior (keeps you from going to hell and guarantees you will go to heaven).

Marriage has been under attack for a long time, and more so in this present time. Many people are choosing to unashamedly live together outside of marriage, commit infidelity within marriage, and fail to pray (Christians) about the person God has chosen for them. If you are engaging in any ungodly activity, please understand that God loves you, but you are showing God that you love yourself more than him. We are all sinners according to the Bible (Romans 3:23). We all need Christ, but we cannot truly know Him as our Savior until we are convicted of sin, confess our sins, repent of our sins, and call upon Christ (Romans 10:9-10).

By now you may be thinking that I am being judgmental. I believe I am sharing what the Bible teaches, and most of the time what it says is gut wrenching and hard to swallow (Just ask Ezekiel-Ez 3:2-3). Read what the Bible says about marriage, relationships, prayer, and examine evidences of your personal declaration of being a Christian. Stand up for what you believe. If you were to ask me if I think everyone should believe as I do, my answer is, yes, because I believe what the Bible says.

My challenge to you is to let people know you love them and that you have a message from God that can change their life for eternity. Go to church and stop sitting at home thinking that you can worship God just as well there as you can with other Christians. It’s time for us as Christians to wake up and be ready to give an account to this world about what we believe. Share the plan of salvation with someone for a change and stop being cynical in church. Know the Bible and what it teaches, because when it comes to matters of faith, marriage, life, and salvation; the Bible is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The Meaning of Christmas

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“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

December is a busy month. Christmas is right around the corner and has a special meaning for all. For a Christian, it means remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus. The birth of a child always brings joy and a sense of wonder. A new life is brought into the world and in the midst of the joy, we also ponder what the child will become and what difference he or she will make in the world. The birth of Christ was like that. Angels announced and celebrated His birth to lowly shepherds and eventually to the whole world. His mother, Mary, pondered all the things she was told about her Son, especially about what He would become. The verse above is central to understanding why Jesus came. His message was one of repentance (turning away) from sin and deliverance from the penalty of sin.

Romans 5:6 says, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Ungodliness means a state of sinfulness. Sin is any act or thought that God deems to be an affront to His holiness and righteousness. Because we have sinned we are judged by God to be unrighteous with the penalty of eternity in hell—not by God’s desire, but ours. Something must be done to satisfy the judgment for sin. That “something” is trusting Christ to be our Savior. The message of repentance is that we can turn away from sin to Christ. True repentance means we will no longer desire to be in opposition or rebellion against God, but will choose to live righteously for Him.

Everybody wants to go to heaven and many believe they can get to heaven by some means other than by Christ. The bible and Jesus said they are wrong about that. The bible tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) This Christmas remember the real reason we celebrate the birth of Christ.

God Created

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)

This verse is probably the most controversial verse in the Bible when it comes to understanding “how it all began”. It’s not controversial to a Christian who believes the Bible is the infallible Word of God. It is true that there are many allegories, sayings, and parables in the Bible. Skeptics will assert that Genesis 1:1 is simply a statement that was not meant to be taken literally. They do not accept the reality that God is real and the creator of all. Their reasoning suggests that everything that was made was done so by a combination of time and chance. Carl Sagan, a noted astronomer once said that “with enough time anything is possible.” His statement was in reply to the Biblical concept of creation which he rejected.

Common sense indicates that matter, energy, and time had to have a beginning. The “big bang” theory asserts that the whole universe was brought into existence by an explosion of compacted energy. If that were so, what created the initial energy? Our Christian view of creation as explained in Genesis is ridiculed and rejected by the scientific community; however, when you compare creation by God with creation by chance and time, the Biblical version is the most credible.

The belief that God created the heavens and the earth is based on more than faith.

“Romans 1:20-21 (HCSB) For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. (21) For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.”

The Believer’s Hope

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There is a worldview suggesting that a Christian is a person who is weak-minded and in need of a belief system to help them deal with life. Many of those who adopt this view are atheists who are hostile to any suggestion that God is real. There are also people who say they are a believer, but live as if there is no God. God created us in His image and a part of that image involves our search for Him. One criticism of the unbeliever is that there are so many different religions and belief systems that either all of them are true, or none of them is. As a Christian we rightly believe that the Bible is the final authority on God. Every other religion has their own false source of inspiration and authority, but none can stand up to scrutiny as the Bible can. The basis of our faith is the hope we have because of what Christ has done in us through salvation. The Bible says in Titus 2:11-15 (NKJV) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (15) Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

The hope this world needs is found in Christ. 1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV) says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” At the end of life is death, and life is short. Many people take no thought about whether they will spend eternity in heaven with God, or in hell, which is the judgment and consequence of rejecting Christ. A believer is a sinner saved by the grace of God who lives with the promise of eternity every day in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13, NKJV).

Are you faced with situations in your life that seem overwhelming and rob you of joy? There is hope. Are you unsure where you will spend eternity? There is hope. When it comes to dealing with sin, disappointments, temptations, and uncertainty, I am weak-minded and in need of a Savior. I thank God that like the children song says, “I am weak, but He is strong.”

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