|St. John Baptist Church|
|Sermons, prayer requests, and updates for our church family|
|When the apostle Paul was writing to the church in Ephesus he said to them in Ephesians 1:15-16-Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. We all have many things that we are praying for and praying about these days and I'm sure Paul did as well, but he had time to make mention of these saints in Ephesus in his prayers. With all that is going on about us, we should never forget to pray for someone else when we pray. It may be someone who is lost and needs salvation or it may be someone who is discouraged and needs encouragement. It could be someone who is battling sickness that needs the Lord's strength or someone who is facing problems and needs God's guidance. You see, the list goes on and on, but there is someone we know who needs our prayers. Don't forget to pray for them today. I feel sure that you are hoping there is someone who is praying for you today.
|Luke 2:8 says, And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. It was fitting that the Holy Spirit lets us know that the time of day of the announcement to the shepherds of our Lord's birth was at night. It was a dark time for the nation politically as Rome was in control of the region. It was dark spiritually as there had been four hundred silent years since a fresh word had been given by God. But all things were about to change as the Word was made flesh to walk among men. The Light of the World was come to give His Light into the darkness of the day. Oh, how dark the night, but now Jesus has come! I wonder today, how dark is the night for you right now? There are those dealing with the darkness of sin because salvation is missing from their heart. There are those dealing with the darkness of sorrow because of some situation in their life. There are those dealing with the darkness of sadness because of some difficulty they are facing at the moment. There is good news, just as there was for the humble shepherds that dark night. The good news is that Jesus has come. He is the hope for all our needs. No matter how dark the night, He is the light we need. He is the hope of our salvation. He is the source of our strength. He is the answer to our sadness. He is the light for our darkness. Jesus declared that truth in John 8 when He said, I am the light of the world. He is today light for whatever darkness you are facing. How dark is your night? He is the light.
|At Christmas we often focus our attention on the actual birth of Jesus and those events surrounding the filled inn, the manger scene, the angels appearing to the shepherds or the wise men coming from afar. But I've been thinking about Mary and her willing and trusting heart. Can you imagine the faith it took for her to accept what she accepted when the angel appeared to her? She was no doubt just a teenage girl when the angel appeared to her telling her that she would give birth to Jesus. The pregnancy would be because the Holy Spirit would come upon her, not because of a relationship with a man. Knowing she would be ridiculed. Knowing the stigma that would follow her. Knowing the possibility of being accused of adultery and being stoned. Yet, Mary said in Luke 1:38-Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Wow! What faith in God and what willingness to obey the Lord. She was being asked to carry all of that and she accepted it. That searches my heart today. Am I willing to accept what the Lord asks me to carry in my life? If He asks me to carry sickness or sorrows or troubles or burdens of life, am I willing to say as Mary, "be it unto me according to thy word"? Far too often I'm ready to grumble and complain about little things compared to what she was asked to do, but Mary had a willing and trusting heart, believing that God had a plan and would handle all the details for His glory. You know, He does for you and me too. If He asks you or me to carry some load in our lives for His sake, He has a plan and will handle all the details for His glory and for His honor in such a way that will be astounding. We need to just have a willing and trusting heart as Mary. What an example Mary has set for you and I to follow.
|In my personal devotions I'm reading through the book of John. I read this morning the fourteenth chapter. This chapter is so rich in truth and encouragement, but one verse captured my thought today. In verse 27 Jesus said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. What a tremendous verse! We often think of a legacy as being money or property handing down from a loved one when they pass it on to us or die. The legacy that our Lord was leaving was peace, but not just any peace...His peace. He described His peace as different from the world's peace. I thought what kind of peace does this world give compared to Him? Their peace is superficial. Their peace is artificial. Their peace is temporary. Their peace cannot sustain in the darkest trials. His peace is so much different because His peace will last through the storm. His peace will sustain through the trial. His peace will comfort in the sadness. His peace will be with you through the dark night of the soul. That is why Jesus could say, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. So, whatever is causing you fear or trouble today realize He gave us peace, but not just any peace. He gave us His peace that will be enough to keep us though our world be rocked with trouble and trial. It is the kind, Paul said, that would keep our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. It is His legacy of peace given to you and to me today.
1-Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.
2-He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.
3-How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.
4-They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.
5-My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
6-He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.
7-In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
8-Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
9-Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
10-Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
11-God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
12-Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
|Through the trials of life and through the troubles of life it is so easy to become disheartened and discouraged. So often we find ourselves feeling empty and lonely. We at times think no one else knows what it's like to be where we are and go through what we go through. The fact is we are not alone in our struggles. There are countless others that have walked the lonely roads before us. There are many that have ventured across the deserts of life before we ever got there. The valleys we walk through have footpaths that are worn slick from the travellers that have been before us. David in that wondrous Psalm 23 said, Yea, though I walk through the valley. We all go through them from time to time. The thing is, don't stop. Don't give up. Don't lose hope. Keep pressing forward. You will get through! I love that word through. It means it is only temporary. It isn't permanent. It isn't going to last forever. You may feel as though you've been there a long time, but you will get "through" it. So, this morning I just have this simple thought on my mind for you. Three simple little words. Twelve letters and an apostrophe - "Don't lose hope."
|The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:20-Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. It is the law of God or the commandments of God that reveal to us our sin. God has declared what sin is in His eternal word and the law, although never intended to change our lives in redeeming us, it does convict our hearts. It reveals God's truth and reveals our failures. I don't know about you, but it sure reveals where I fail and miss the mark of God. Yet, I'm so thankful that the great apostle never stopped there. He went on to say that where sin abounded or was much or rose in excess that grace did much more abound or rose far greater above it. I'm so thankful today for the much more abounding grace of God. I look at my life and see many sins, far more than I like to admit, but I'm glad there is grace that rises above my sins and forgives me. I fail Him so often and in so many ways. I look at my life to see where I miss it more often I feel than I hit it, but thank God for grace. He is merciful and He is gracious and He is kind and He is forgiving to us when we come honestly confessing our sins to Him. It's easy to look at everyone else and point out there flaws and faults. I challenge you today. Take a look in the mirror and you'll see someone who is where they are because of much more abounding grace.
|I'll be honest with you today. Sometimes you begin to feel like things will never change and that it will always be as it is. We live in a world that is all messed up and in a society that is in complete disarray. We live in bodies that are breaking down and wearing out. We deal with physical limitations. The desire to do is present, but the ability to do so often is limited. We think back to a time in our life when it wasn't like this. We remember when, maybe not too very long ago, things were so much different than they are now. But here we are. Dealing with "life" as it is for us. But is won't be like this forever. In that great resurrection chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes in verse 51-52-Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Twice Paul says, we shall be changed. Thank God, it won't be like this forever. There will come a day when sin won't be a problem to us. There will come a day when Satan will be cast into the lake of fire forever. There will come a day when sickness and sorrow will never be known. There will come a day when there will be no more cancer, no more pain, no more weakness, no more worries, no more heartaches or any such things. We deal with those things and more now, but it won't be like this forever. There is a better day coming for you and for me.