Pastor Chad's Itinarary

Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Rejoice In the Lord"

Luke 10:20b) "...rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

 I want to share what the Lord has been doing in the ministry at PHBC and hopefully it'll be an encouragement to others, especially other pastors, to fight the fight and keep the faith.
     The Scripture teaches clearly that believers have much to rejoice in. First of all, believers can rejoice knowing the Sovereign God of the universe has created them, loved them, chose them, and has given them eternal salvation in His Son. Secondly, believers can rejoice knowing "those who love God all things work together for good, for those who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)."  No matter the circumstance, trial, or tribulation the believer has the calm assurance, "God is in heaven and He does whatever he pleases (Pslam 115:3)." Thirdly, the believer can rejoice in the salvation of sinners.
     Why should believers rejoice in the Lord when a sinner is converted? I will start with the answer to which many miss when it comes to the salvation of sinners. The Bible teaches, "salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9)." Jesus said in John 15:16, speaking to his disciples, "you did not choose me but I choose you." Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, "God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4)."There are several other references in the N.T. which teach of God's Sovereign election of individuals "unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13)." This teaches us that salvation is in the hands of a complete sovereign God and no one can thwart His plan. This cause humility on the behalf of the one whom God brings to a place of salvation, knowing salvation is "by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God so no man can boast (Eph.2:8-9)." The reason why believers can rejoice in the Lord in the salvation of others is because salvation is the "free gift of God." When a sinner comes to salvation, they experience a supernatural work of God, not merely a 'human decision' (John 1:11-13) to be a Christian or to ask 'Jesus into their heart.' But a miracle of God, for that is what salvation is a miracle wrought by God the Holy Spirit.
     In saying this, I want to now share with you what God by HIs grace has been doing the last week at PHBC. For the last 10 months we have seen somewhat of a 'revival' at the church where I serve as pastor. The Lord has been gracious to us in bringing new people to our fellowship and bringing sinners to Himself through repentance and faith. Over a year ago, I did not know if I would still be at this church or not due to conflict of intrest with some of the families of the church. The Lord helped me through those situations, brought a freshness to my soul, a new passion for Him, and a zeal for preaching the gospel like never before.
     The last week has been somewhat overwhelming for me as a pastor. The church at PHBC had its first VBS in several years. Upon our discussion of even having VBS, we decided it would not be like most VBS (spending money on curriculum, decorations, and blow up games), but rather it would be simple, somewhat 'old school.' We decided I would write lessons for the Bible study lessons, which would be saturated with Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We would have a time for the children to have recreation, a time to do some type of craft, and have a small snack each day. I wanted our focus to be upon Christ and nothing else. I wanted the children to leave with a sense of urgency for their souls. The Lord blessed and we were able to pour into the souls of children the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am thankful, I had teachers who studied and prepared for a couple of weeks in teaching and taking serious the need to teach them the word.
     VBS ended last Sunday morning with their last lesson during our normal Bible study time with Jesus and Nicodemus. After that we all converged in the auditorium for the gathering of God's people to worship through hymn and preaching. During this time a new believer in Christ came forward and shared his testimony of God's saving grace in his life. He explained that God had taken him from drugs, alcohol, and had given him a new heart. This was surely a glorious and encouraging thing for our fellowship. After the service people gathered into their cars and drove to the Red River to witness Jon's profession of faith by believers baptism. There were over 60 people gathered on the bank of the Red River to encourage Jon in his walk with Christ.
By the way, it was my first baptism in a river!
     As the day was ending and I was preparing for bed, my oldest son Chance comes into our room to talk with me. Chance is shy and quiet for the most part. But, Chance was perplexed about something as I could tell in the tone of his voice as he sat on my bed. Chance wanted to know if a person could be saved and not know it. Which I replied, "when God grants a person repentance and faith, to turn from their sin and trust in Christ for salvation they will know it." I could tell this bothered him. He began to share with me how his heart had been affected through the preaching of God's Word, VBS, and our family devotion for an extended period of time (probably a year or so). He said, "he had an understanding of his sin toward God and he was wanting to trust Christ for him to forgive his sin." The Lord gave me Philippians 1:6, "he who begins a good work will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus." I told Chance to call upon the name of the Lord and to turn to Christ for his eternal salvation. He wanted me to pray for him, so I go out of bed and we knelt down beside the bed and I prayed to the Lord to help him. After I finished Chance, prayed, "God help me, I need you to save me, I can not do this on my own." The prayer did not save him but he acknowledged to the Lord what he was in need of. My friends I rejoiced, just as the Lord commanded his disciples to do in Luke.
     Right now, I am counseling with Chance as we read God's Word together and I see slight changes in him (he is quick to ask to pray). I am seeing evidence of God's grace in his life. This is of utmost importance when it comes to true salvation, it is not if you prayed, were baptized, or even joined a church but rather is there fruits of spiritual life in the life you live from day to day?
     So I ask you... First, do you know how your sin offends the Holy God of the Bible? Second, do you understand what the gospel is (can you articulate the gospel in 60 seconds)? Thirdly, has those two things caused the way you live your life to change? Remember, there is no justification (forgiveness of sin) apart from sanctification.
     I say all of this to encourage you wherever you are in your ministry to trust in the hand of the Lord. Also I pray we as believers would "rejoice" in God's kingdom being advanced for His glory!


Friday, July 20, 2012

"There But for the Grace of God, Go I"

Genesis 6:5) The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

     As I woke up this morning to the tragic news of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I was reminded again of the horrific evil man is capable of. I watched the news reports and listened to witnesses give a 'play by play' of what took place in the theatre. About 30 minutes ago our President of the United States who was on a campaign rally in Florida, gave an address not on politics but rather on the tragedy in Colorado. In his address, he asked a question I imagine many Americans will ask, will want to ask, or already are asking, "how could someone do such a horrific evil act of violence?"
      The President's question is like asking, "why do bad things happen to good people?" The question asked is from a humanistic worldview rather than a biblical worldview. The problem with this question as well as President Obama's is the presumption there are 'good people.' Paul in his letter to the Romans declared, None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12). The Scriptures clearly teache man is not righteous, he does not seek God, man is worthless, and does no good outside of knowing His Creator. Quiet the contrast to what the world says about people today when they say, "he is such a good person." Men, women, boys and girls are in need of something greater than themselves, namely to be reconciled to God by His redemption through Christ Jesus, because man has utterly fallen and separated from His Creator.
      So, why does man need to be reconciled or made right with God? The answer is giving by what took place in Colorado earlier this morning, the evil and wickedness of humans. Moses writes of this before God destroys all His creation, "God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."Some perhaps would disagree with me when I say, "the evil and wickedness upon earth today is no worse than in Noah's days, only there is more people to carry it out." This tragic event which took place is not because of this mans upbringing or lack of education, rather it stems from a separation from him knowing and enjoying His Creator forever through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
     To answer the question which has been proposed, "how could someone do such a horrific evil act of violence?" is because man in his natural state is fallen, who are in need of being redeemed by their Creator, the One who created them in His image. The storyline of Scripture teaches us that in God's creation everything was good, than man fell in sin (sin entered in the world through one man, Adam), but I am grateful God provided a covering in killing an animal sacrifice to cover our sin rather than killing man (which He would have been just in doing) which ultimately points to our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor.5:21).
     As we pray for these families who has lost their loved ones and try to answer the questions of others, let us remember the 'wickedness of man' in Genesis 6:5 is as real today as it was then. Let us remember our own evil and wickedness which lies in our own hearts. The evil and wickedness of man is alive and well in the world we live in, it is in our country, in the states we live in, it is in our communities, and it is even in our own homes, with our children, our spouses, and even within ourselves. What I am trying to say is this; if it were not for the restraining grace of God, it could have been me or you going into a movie theatre and going on a mass killing spree this morning. Everyone because of the effects of the fall in Genesis 3 has the capability to commit such acts of evil. As the early English Reformer John Bradford has been famously quoted, "there but for the grace of God, go I."
     I am grateful for God's restraining grace. I am thankful for mercy and grace in showing me my sin, providing me for away of escape and in bringing me into a relationship with Himself. I am thankful my sins have been forgiven and I have access to the throne room of God grace and mercy. If you today do not know your Creator, the One who made you in His image, gave you life, and purpose, I pray He would show your need of forgiveness and the need to be redeemed by the precious blood of the lamb slained before the foundation of the world.