|St. John Baptist Church|
|Sermons, prayer requests, and updates for our church family|
|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.
|Elijah, according to the book of James, was a man of like passions as we are. In other words, he was just like you and me. Just as we, at times, need to hear the Lord's voice more clearly so did he. As a matter of fact, he had heard God's voice and had been obedient, until he heard Jezebel's voice and listened to her threats. He then fled into the wilderness, sat down under a juniper tree and wanted to die. Much of Elijah's problem is what you and I deal with...discouragement. It comes when we get tired, when we get distracted, when we listen to the wrong voices and we focus on the wrong things. What he needed was a time of rest and refocusing. He found himself alone in a cave where God could speak to him. It wasn't in the strong wind, earthquake or the fire that the Lord spoke to him through, but in the still small voice. So often we miss His voice because we don't have time for the still small voice. We need to slow down long enough to quieten down the voice of this world that we can hear His voice. It was after Elijah heard the still small voice that he was ready to go back out and face the world again.
|We spend a great deal of our day speaking and listening. We talk to friends, to family even to people we don't know. We listen to the radio, to the television, to the internet or to people on the telephone. I read that we hear somewhere in the neighborhood of between 20,000 to 30,000 words every day. That's a lot of words!! But of all the voices we listen to I wonder how much we listen for the Lord's voice. No, He doesn't speak in an audible voice for us to hear. It's so often much louder than that. He speaks to us in His word. He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. He speaks to us through the circumstances of life. He often speaks to us even through the voice of a friend. Yet, I wonder if we are listening. So often we get so busy with life and all it involves that we just don't take the time to listen to what He says to us. Of all the voices that I hear, and there are a lot of important ones that I need to listen to, yet, His is the most important of all. His voice keeps me focused on what is truly important in life. Don't get so busy that you stop listening for His voice. No wonder the Bible so often says, If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
|We have a lot of ways to help us find directions to where we are wanting to go today. It used to be those old paper road maps that once you unfolded them you just never could get them folded back together again just right. It is now GPS systems that are right on our cell phones and will help us get to where we need to go. The Lord has given us some direction in His word as well. Proverbs 3:5-8 says, Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Daily I need that direction about my life. I need Him to give me direction about my personal life, my family life, my spiritual life, as a matter of fact, about every area of my life. His direction is more accurate than any GPS system that man can create and will never have to recalculate anything for us. As Solomon said, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart. Why not try that today and every day.
|It seems that there is no lack of opinion today about everything. Just ask anyone you meet about any subject and you'll get an earful and probably most of it will depress you. Honestly, if you look at our world there isn't much to encourage you is there? But we who know the Lord can take courage in realizing that, no matter what is going on around us, the Lord is watching over us. There's an old song that says something like this, "His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches over me." Jesus said one day in Luke 12:6-Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? Those little birds that we don't give much thought to. I ask you, have you thought about a sparrow today? God has. The idea of Jesus' teaching was that God cares more for His own that you could imagine and He went on to say in vs 7-But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. If the Father cares for those little birds that we give little thought too, how much more does He care for you and I? And He knows every detail of our lives. I'm glad the Father is watching over me today. How about you? That encourages me today no matter what others are saying.
|There always seems to be a measure of dread as we start a new week and face the dreaded "Monday Morning." I guess I'm no different than anyone else, as far as that goes. But I'm so thankful that the Lord we worship on Sunday is the same on Monday. He didn't say "And, lo, I am with you on Sunday." But He said, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." And that includes Monday to the best of my knowledge. So be thankful that you have one with you today who was with you yesterday and will be with you always no matter what you face or no matter what you need...even if it's on Monday.