|St. John Baptist Church|
|Sermons, prayer requests, and updates for our church family|
|I remember reading a little story about a dad who asked his son to move a rock out of the way. The son tried his best to lift it, but it was just too heavy. The dad asked him, "Son, are you sure you're using all your strength?" The son replied, "Yes, dad, I am." And, again the boy tried with all his might to lift the rock to move it out of the way, but couldn't. Once again the dad said to him, "Son, I don't think you're using all your strength. Are you sure you are?" The boy frustrated and exhausted from trying said, "Dad, I have been using all my strength. What else could I do?" The dad said, "You weren't using all your strength because you never asked me to help you. If you would have asked I would have helped you move that rock." You know, we are the same way. We'll do our best in our own strength to carry our burdens, but never ask the Lord to help us with them. If we only ask Him, He will come to our aid and help us carry those heavy loads that we aren't able to carry ourselves. I thank God today that there is strength in the Lord. What are you trying to carry all by yourself today? Let Him help you carry it.|
|I was working on the website this morning, trying to get some things updated before moving on to some other things I needed to do. I started to skip putting something in the blog section thinking that I really didn't have time then I realized I hadn't put anything here in a while. You know? Isn't it amazing how we let ourselves get so busy with so many things? Things that pull us here and then things that stretch us there. But I am so thankful today that the Lord is never too busy for us. He always has time for whatever I have going on in my life. He has all of the universe to control. He feeds all of the wild animals on the face of the earth. He provides for all that you and I need. He keeps the stars in their places and the sun shining in its brightness. It isn't too hot and it isn't too cold. He is watching over every single one of His sheep, but He always has time for me. He never is too busy when I call on His name or ask Him for help or cry out in fear or seek Him in a time of need. I'm so thankful today that the Lord is never too busy for us. So whatever you are needing from the Lord today. Go ahead. Reach out to Him. You'll find that, no matter what He is doing, He has time for you.|
|The book of Hebrews, for one thing, contrasts the ministry of the Old Testament priesthood to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. In one particular portion Paul writes about Jesus having an unchangeable priesthood and goes on to say in Hebrews 7:25-seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. There are things that happen to us through the course of life that would cause us to believe that no one cares and bring us to the dark place of despair. But Paul writes to remind us that there is One who does care and that He ever lives to call our name out in prayer to the Father. Right now in your present situation, there is one praying for you as no one else can. Others can pray for you without ever knowing exactly how you feel or how desperately you hurt, but He does. He knows where the very need of your life lies and is able to present that need before the Father as no one else can. I am thankful for everyone and anyone who prays for me, but I'd rather have the Great High Priest Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God calling my name out to the Father on my behalf. So take courage today weary saint. Someone is praying for you today!|
|You know, I think we've all had those friends who are handy with advice. They are always ready to share their "two cents" worth of help with us. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate good friends who are willing to come and help in a time of need, but there are some who are more like Job's friends that their advice is more of a critique of what you're doing wrong than trying to find out how they can help. There's a verse you don't often hear from the book of Job that is a response of his to them found in Job 13:5 when Job says, O that ye would altogether hold your peace! and it should be your wisdom. Job was saying, "If only you would just be quiet and listen for a little while." You know, sometimes all you really want and need is a listening friend. Not someone to try and "fix" you or "straighten you out", but just to be there and listen to you as you hurt and to encourage you by letting you know that they are there for you. It is in my heart today to be that kind of friend. I've been the kind who wants to have all the answers and to try to have the right words to say to meet the situation. But sometimes it means everything just to be the kind of friend who is there to listen. I want to be a listening friend. How about you?|
|A verse we hardly ever think of or read until Christmas is found in Isaiah 9:6-For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of course, we know that Isaiah's prophecy is of none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He is more than a child born, He is the Son given as Savior for our sins. But the phrase on my mind is the part that says, and the government shall be upon his shoulder. There is a time that He will reign as king of all the earth and rule this earth as it ought to be ruled. But I think about the shoulders that are the only one's that could carry such a load as that. His shoulder can handle that massive task and if His shoulder can handle the massive task of the government of this world, don't you think His shoulder can handle anything you and I will ever face in life? He carried the cross on His shoulder and bore it to Calvary. He will one day bear the government of this world on His shoulder. Yet, right now He as our Shepherd will carry His sheep on His shoulders. If you think you can't make it today, the Lord your Shepherd, will carry you. His shoulders are strong enough to handle it all.|
|I'm sure we've all had the experience of driving down the highway in the fog. It's hard sometimes to just find the road and to make sure we stay out of the ditch. You grip the steering wheel more tightly and strain to focus so that in an instant you can hit the brakes or swerve to miss something in the way. All the while you're praying that the Lord help you just get through the fog and make it to your destination. It can be unnerving to drive that way. What a blessing it is when suddenly the fog lifts and everything clears up. Sometimes it feels that our lives spiritually are a lot like that. There are times we feel as though we're driving in the fog, trying to find the way and just hoping to stay on the road. We keep looking for the place where the fog will lift and we can see clearly once again. Maybe you're still waiting for the fog to lift. I say to you today, don't give up, just keep pressing forward and asking for the Lord to get you through the fog. There will come the place for you when the fog will lift and you'll be able to see things more clearly again. Will it come soon? I can't say how long it will take, but just keep leaning on the Lord and trusting in His guidance and help. He will get you through the fog and somewhere it will lift for you.|
|It seems like we've hit a weather pattern of rainy, dreary weather that just doesn't want to let up. Oh, there are a few breaks of sun here and there, but for the most part it's been a lot of rain lately. I glanced at the forecast and next week looks like several days of rain chances again. It seems like life has those patterns too. Times when the rain just won't let up. One rainy, dreary day seems to follow another. But I know there is a purpose behind it all. If all we had was sunshine, we would grow unappreciative of it and take it for granted. But after a period of rain and dreary days, we sure rejoice when we see the wondrous sight of the sun shining through the clouds. It's the same spiritually. If we never had difficult days we would take for granted the good things the Lord gives us, but after the difficulties pass, we sure do appreciate His blessings even more. Can you imagine what it will be like when we stand in His presence knowing all the storms of life are past? In that day, we will realize as we could never down here, just how blessed life for us has truly been. What a day that will be when the rains will have ended. Storms of life will be no more and we'll enjoy the blessings of the Son forevermore.|
|1-How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?|
2-How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
3-Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4-Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5-But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6-I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
|It's so easy to think about all we have to do from day to day. It seems like there's always things to be done around the house or for the family. For so many there is the daily rush to get up, get ready for work, get out the door and then finally when you get home and eat some supper you're ready to find a spot to sit down and relax. You've got a full cup and most of us do anymore. But my mind thinks of what David said in Psalm 23:5-my cup runneth over. When he said that, he wasn't talking about everything he had going on in his life. He was talking about how blessed he was in life. When he thought about the Lord being his Shepherd and how He provided for him daily he said, "My cup runneth over." When he thought about how the Lord cared so deeply for him he said, "My cup runneth over." When he realized he never faced a trial alone he said, "My cup runneth over." When he thought about the enemies the Lord kept him safe from he said, "My cup runneth over." Well, I think you get the picture. David was saying that when he thought about how truly blessed he was that his cup was one that ran over. I remember years ago how when people drank their coffee they used the cup and saucer and often they would fill the cup till it ran over into the saucer. That's how I feel today. I feel as though the Lord has filled my cup so full of His blessings that it has run over into the saucer. I feel as David today, "My cup runneth over." How about you?|
|It was the psalmist Asaph that penned the words in Psalm 73:1-Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. If you study the psalm out you will find that Asaph was struggling in the psalm. He was watching the wicked prosper. He looked at them and thought that they seemed to not share in the same kind of troubles that he dealt with. They were corrupt, evil, deceitful and selfish in their actions, disregarding God completely. He, on the other hand, was trying to faithfully serve the Lord, but yet he often struggled and he sought to understand it all. That's something we struggle with too at times. Yet, he said it all when he said, Truly God is good. We often say He is good when our tests come out good. We say He is good when the surgery goes well. We say He is good when we recover from some sickness. We say He is good when our loved one is spared. We say He is good when something we've prayed for is given to us. But I have to ask the question today...is He only good when what we desire of Him is good? When He gives me what I wanted or when He meets my expectations? I want to say today that He is still good even when things aren't as I desired. Even when the tests didn't turn out as I had hoped and prayed for. Even when the problem didn't go away. Even when I ended up with more questions than answers. God is still good even then. He is always good. His goodness isn't based on my getting the good I had hoped for or desired. His goodness isn't based on me doing certain things to merit it or earn it. His goodness is based on who He is. God is simply good at all times to all of us, in the good times as well as the bad times. God is so good to you and to me.|
|I remember years ago reading the story about an elderly lady whose favorite Scripture verse was 2 Timothy 1:12 that says, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. That was her life verse and it was her anchor that she lived by and trusted. As the years passed, her mind got worse and she finally had to be placed in a nursing home, but she still would cling to her verse. Then it got harder to remember all the words until the day finally came that she could only remember one of the words of her favorite verse--the word "Him." When anyone would come to see her, in a barely audible voice she would just say over and over, "Him...Him...Him." You see, when it comes down to it, He is what really matters most of all. Knowing Him is what sustained her till she went home and He is the One who will sustain us also. It isn't whether I remember Him, it is the fact in knowing that He remembers me. Don't let what you're going through in life take your eyes off of Him. Whether we face good days or bad days remember whatever comes in our lives it's all about Him. Till we take our final breath or till the trumpet sounds, keep your eyes on Him.|
|We often think of how wonderful it would be in life if there were no problems, no burdens, no difficulties or no trials to ever come our way. But the Lord knows that if we never had any of those things that we would, no doubt, become careless and tend to pray much less than we do now and even forget to depend on Him as we ought to. So He sends these things our way and they press us towards Him, causing us to lean on His strength and rely on His wisdom day by day. Oh, I am like most of you, thinking of how great it would be to not have to deal with those things, but for now we do. We press on, realizing that there will come a day, when we'll lay aside the battles, burdens and sorrows of this life and exchange it all for Heaven's wonders. I don't have a clue when that great day will come, but until then I press on. Living each day as though it might be the day He calls us home from a world of trouble and strife. And if it doesn't happen today? I keep pressing on until the day He comes. You may be hurting this morning. You may be worried today. You may be burdened over something in your family. Don't let whatever you're facing today stop you from pressing on. He will give you strength for today and one day, we'll cross the last hill, we'll round the last curve, we'll carry the last burden and we'll be home. Until then just keep pressing on.|
Memorial Day is exactly what it says…it is a day that serves to preserve our memory. It is a day set aside lest we forget the sacrifices made by men and women so that we might enjoy the freedoms we share today. It isn’t about whether you agree with war or not. It isn’t about what political platform you stand on. It isn’t about time off from work. It is about honoring those who have bravely served and sacrificed that America and Americans can remain free today. When you freely drive to church or to the mall or to work or wherever you desire to go, think about the sacrifices that earned you that right. When you lay in the warmth of your bed consider the soldiers who have laid in the fox holes of battlefields whose names are seldom remembered that you could do that. When you sit down at your table to eat a meal with your family consider the soldiers who, far from home and family, lived with the thought that they may never see their families again to give us that privilege. When you see old glory waving in the cemetery marking the graves of those who bravely served our country in the military, consider that by the grace of Almighty God and the sacrifice of these great men and women, we are what we are today as a nation; living in freedom for nearly 244 years. We dare not forget their great sacrifice in preserving our freedoms. I am thankful on this Memorial Day 2020 for those who have sacrificed, who haved served and are now serving in our Armed Forces.
|I woke up this morning with the old song sung by the Singing Cookes from years ago entitled "Oh What a City" on my mind. Some of the words go like this, "There's a city over yonder not made with human hands. A place where no heartache will ever trouble man. None of the poets or great authors can really describe all the beauty that's waiting inside. Oh what a City, what a land. On those Hills of Zion I know I'll stand. No more crying, no more dying, no more pain for us to bear. Oh, what a City He's gone to prepare." I am so thankful today that there is a place beyond this land of sin and sorrow. A place where there is no more sickness or pain to bear. Where there will be no more fear, nor worries, no loss, no loneliness, no emptiness, but all will be joy in His presence and with God's family forevermore. One step inside that city will bring abundant joy and happiness and peace. It will be home and we will feel more alive and more at home than we will have ever felt down here. Oh what a city!
|There is something spreading across our land that is increasing more than the Covid-19. It is a weariness in people. There is a weariness in being stuck in houses. A weariness in things not being normal. A weariness in things moving so slowing to get back to normal. A weariness with the numbers of the sick and dying rising daily. A weariness with all of the bickering among people over whether we ought to protect ourselves a certain way or not. A weariness of trying to get back to being able to do what we want to do again. Everyone is on edge and everyone is edgy these days. Yet, Paul gave some wondrous words to the Thessalonian church when he said in 2 Thessalonians 3:13-But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. You, Christians, don't get weary in doing what is right. Remember this...we represent our Lord in everything we do. So, even though we are weary, we are still to do what is right. We are still representing Him as citizens of this country. We are representing Him as Christians in our community. We are representing Him in how we carry ourselves in public and how we act in dealing with others. Though we are weary, and surely we all are, we should never be weary in doing what is right in the eyes of our Lord.
|I heard the story once of an airplane that was caught up in a terrible storm. The plane was tossed about by the turbulence from side to side. The clouds were dark and the lightning was flashing. All of the passengers on board were frightened except for one small boy who was sitting with his notebook in hand. He was drawing a picture of himself climbing a tree on a sun-filled day. He seemed to be oblivious to the storm going on outside the plane. A lady asked him, "Aren't you afraid?" He looked up a moment, smiled and said calmly, "No." Then he went back to his drawing. The lady asked him again, "Why not?" The boy looked back at the lady and said, "Because my dad is the pilot." When life seems so out of control all around us, don't ever forget who is in control of it all. I'm glad I know who is at the controls and He is my Heavenly Father. We can't control what storms we may fly into, but we can always have peace because we know the Pilot and He will get us safely through the storm.
|This old hymn is on my heart this morning and it is what I want to give to you. Written by Edward Mote in the 1800s. "My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;|
In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand." Amen!!
|David asked in Psalm 139:7-Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? He went on to give several instances but with all the same conclusion that God would even be there. Could I just remind you that no matter where you are today, He is there. You will never be where God is not. If you find yourself in the lowest valley, He is there. If you feel yourself in the deepest pit, He is there. If you think yourself in the most difficult situation, He is there. No matter where you are today, He is there. He has promised to never leave us and no matter where life takes us we can rest assured He is there. The old hymn says, "When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and stay." No matter where you find yourself today, though you may not see Him, He is there.
|W. A. Criswell related this story once in a message that I want to share with you today. A wealthy man named John had given his life to the world and not to God. In his last illness he became obsessed with his hands. His wife called his business partner Jim, asking him to come and talk to him. "Maybe you can help him, Jim," she said, "he is obsessed with his hands." So Jim came to see his old friend John, whom he had known and loved through the years. As they visited, Jim finally said, "John, there is nothing wrong with your hands." But John looked at him and said, "Jim, look! My God, Jim, they are so empty! They are so empty!" So I shared that to ask you today...what is in your hands? We so often spend our lives trying to hold things that don't mean a hill of beans which we will one day let go off. What really matters is what we use our hands for to honor our Lord.
|I had on my mind this morning the wondrous privilege that we have to pray. I know we try to pray about many things in our lives like our family, our church, about the sick, the lost and I'm sure so many other things on our hearts. But I'm thinking about just the wondrous privilege it is to talk to the Lord. I'm afraid our prayers (mine included) so often consist only of nothing more than a spiritual shopping list of what we want delivered to our lives. But think about how privileged we are to talk to the Lord, the God of old, the Creator of the universe, the God Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of David, the Lord of Glory, the King of kings and Lord of lords. What an awesome privilege it is to be able to have an audience with Him and to know that He is interested in those things that concern me and my life. Yes, I can tell Him all about my family, our church, the sick, the lost and all the other things that weigh heavy on my heart and He cares about all of them. Yet, it pleases Him so that we come into His presence with worship and adoration in our hearts before we ask anything of Him. Before we tell Him all about our needs, lets be careful to tell HIm how much we love HIm and give Him the honor He truly deserves. What a wondrous privilege we have to talk to Him.