We live in a world where so many people have lost all hope. For some it is because their family has or is falling apart. When someone has one expectation of what family is or should be and then another family member sabotages that expectation then family members lose hope. Expectations of economic security are dashed when a good job is lost and there seems to be no hope of replacing it. While jobs may be plentiful at this time it doesn’t mean that they will be what we might have expected. Hope is lost when sudden or even chronic illness affects a family and changes everything. In a moment an accident or serious illness can take away the hope that was there. Perhaps the greatest loss of hope occurs when we lose someone that we love. This loss could be by either death or separation.
The disciples of Jesus must have felt that all hope was lost when the One that they loved and followed was suddenly taken away. The story is told in the gospel of Luke the 24th chapter. Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking and talking on the road to Emmaus. They were recalling the events of the week on this seven-mile walk. Suddenly Jesus was walking with them but for some reason, known only to God, they were kept from knowing HIM. Jesus asked the question, “What are you talking about?” They were surprised this stranger didn’t know what had happened and explained how Jesus had been arrested, tried and crucified. They told him that Jesus was a prophet, powerful in word and deed. Then they said this powerful and insightful sentence, “We had hoped that HE was the ONE to redeem Israel, and now it is the third day since HE died.” When Jesus died, they lost all hope. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.
What has caused you to lose all hope? Has it been the loss of a job, a serious life-threatening illness, someone very near and dear to you dying, a family member who is estranged? Let me encourage you to look to the ONE that can heal your hurts and relationships. Jesus Christ is the only one that we can turn to that will never let us down. Come to Jesus by faith and depend upon HIM. First, we must depend upon Jesus for our eternal life. Jesus said it like this… “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b and then in John 6:47 He said, “I tell you the truth, he who believes in me has everlasting life.” You can be sure that your sins are forgiven and that you have a place in heaven one you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ who is the One who made the complete payment for your sin.
Back to the story of the two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. When one of the Disciples, Cleopas told Jesus what had happened he replied, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter into His glory? Then he went with them into the village and broke bread with them. When Jesus took the bread and broke it, giving thanks that is when they finally recognized HIM. Their response was that they did believe in the risen Christ after all.
What will it take for you to believe in the risen Christ this Easter? Maybe you used to believe but you have wandered far away from God. Thankfully God allows U-Turns, in fact HE promotes them. Perhaps you have never understood that eternal life is yours for the asking, all you can do is come to Jesus Christ by faith. The Bible clearly says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
WHY DO WE NEED REVIVAL?
Our church is hosting a Revival this weekend, January 30 & 31 at 6:00 PM. I’ve been thinking that some may wonder if we really need Revival. I’d like to address that question and then get each person who is reading this column to consider their own need.
First of all, it is people who have a personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation that need Revival. If a person has never come to the place where they realize that Jesus is their Savior, their sins are forgiven and they are on their way to heaven they don’t need Revival, they need JESUS! Place your faith in HIM today. He lived a perfect life and then died to pay for the sins of thew whole world so that they could have eternal life. If you will call out to JESUS and trust HIM alone as your Lord and Savior you can be sure of eternal life. I John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior have a tendency of slipping away from Christ. Hebrews 2:1 says “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” It is so simple to slip away from the Lord who has saved us and keeps us. First of all, we stop attending regular worship services that are designed to keep our spiritual fires burning. During this never-ending pandemic it is so easy to get disconnected. We have members, who many for health reasons have not attended services in almost two years. Some have kept up faithfully by following our online services, but church on the couch is not the same as church in person. Our services can be accessed through our website www.calvarybaptistsedalia.org or YouTube.com or our Facebook page. I’m quite certain that some of our members have just gotten out of the habit of coming to church. The admonition was given by the author of Hebrews in chapter 10 verse 25 “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the DAY approaching.
Believers need to be careful not to slip away from the fellowship that we have with and in Christ. Psalms 85:6 says, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” It is my humble opinion that the world is waiting and watching for the people who make up the church to get right with God. We have an opportunity this week with Pastor Michael T. Byrd Sr. (a church planter from East St. Louis) coming to share the word of God with us. Pastor Byrd is a successful church planter that God called to go back to the place he grew up to plant a church. He will deliver a word from the Lord that Sedalia area Christians need to hear. Join us Sunday and Monday night at Calvary Baptist Church 1015 W. 16th St. Sedalia, Missouri. You will be glad that you invested the time and effort. We have a mask only section where you can sit and feel safe. Don’t let anything stop you from coming to this Revival.
II Chronicles 7:14 was written to the nation of Israel but I believe it is also an important challenge to the church in the 21st century. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The question is will we?
That very first Christmas night Joseph and Mary had travelled over 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They had to make the trip, he was required to go pay taxes in his hometown. They didn't know they were fulfilling Scripture from Micah 5:2 which said, "But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, even though you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you that is to ruler in Israel, whose orgin is from old, from everlasting." This prophecy which was given thousands of years before Christ's birth predicts where the Christ would be born.
They arrived in Bethlehem and there was no where for them to stay. Mary was great with child but that didn't make any difference. Had the innkeeper known that the God of the universe was going to be born on that silent night he would have given Joseph and Mary his finest room. God had a plan though and it was to enter this world showing his humility. His humble birth was all part of God's plan.
The question for you this Christmas is, "do you have any room for Jesus in your celebration?" There are so many traditions and many of them are cherished in our families but does Jesus have any part of your Christmas?
I believe that we need to put Christ first in Christmas. Take time to worship Jesus together as a family with your church family. This Sunday, December 19th is Christmas Sunday, the last Sunday before Christmas day. Will you make it a priority to gather with your church family and celebrate the birth of Christ? A week from Friday night is Christmas Eve. Wouldn't it be great to bring your extended family to worship at Calvary at 5 pm before the lights and the tinsel and the presents? I hope you will make room for Christ this Christmas.
The Bible tells us in I Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in everything; for this is God's will in Christ Jesus." As we approach thanksgiving we are reminded that we should give thanks, not just on the 4th Thursday of November but every day for everything. What are you thankful for today? Make a list and let God know as you spend time in prayer.
The difficult part of giving thanks in everything is that we should give thanks for the bad a well as the good. It is great to be on the mountain top and rejoice when things are going our way. God is not just the God of the mountains but also of the valleys. The 23rd Psalm reminds us, "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." So the next time something bad happens to you, you or a family member gets sick, you have a flat tire or an accident, you lose your job, or you just have a bad day, be thankful that "God is with you always in all things.
Let me encourage you to come and join us tomorrow, November 21st at Calvary Baptist Church. There will be a combined Sunday school class for all adults at 8:50 am in the sanctuary taught by Pastor Jonathan (the children & youth will be in their classes downstairs. Worship will begin at 10:00 am as together we thank God for his many blessings. Following the worship service we will have our annual Church Thanksgiving Dinner. Pat Love and her crew have worked tirelessly preparing for this special meal. INVITE FAMILY MEMBERS & FRIENDS TO JOIN YOU FOR WORSHIP & LUNCH. I am so thankful that we can celebrate with our church family and I'm looking forward to seeing you.
Giving Thanks for You,
We remember, in fact I’m confident that those of us who were alive on September 11th, 2001 will never forget the horrific events that took place. Alan Jackson wrote the timely song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning that September Day?” I sure remember that day as I was sitting in my study at West Chester Community Fellowship in West Chester, Pennsylvania. My best friend called me from Georgia and asked me, “Are you watching the news?” From that moment on I spent the rest of the day watching the awful events of that day unfold.
I called my wife who was still living in North Carolina, (I had just started at the church in PA and she was finishing her Masters Degree at the University of North Carolina). It was hard to be apart when such a tragedy had taken place. We opened our Sanctuary for prayer and it was filled with people I had never met, praying together. That week we had continuous times of prayer. Tragedies like this seem to draw people toward God but they seldom are long term.
In our church community we had one miracle that took place that day. One of my deacons worked in the World Trade Center and would have been in the building that morning but he was sick that day and didn’t travel to Manhattan that morning. He and his wife certainly had much to praise God for that September 11th. Sadly, the surge in church attendance didn’t continue and we were back to our small community of faith in just a few short weeks.
This September 11th is the 20th anniversary of that horrible day. Calvary Baptist Church is hosting a free breakfast at 8:00 am that Saturday. Our purpose is to honor our 1st Responders that day. All police officers, Sherriff deputies, firefighters, paramedics and other front line workers will be our special guests. There will be special music, greetings from first responders and an inspirational message. All are invited. It would be helpful to know how many are coming but is not absolutely necessary. If you plan to come you can call the church office at 660-826-5011 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
September 11th changed our world forever, but it is so easy to forget the horrific events of a day like this. So often we think that life will just go on like nothing ever happened. It changed the way we travel and has caused our society to be more diligent about daily life. It also made many people aware of the fact that no one has a guarantee of tomorrow. The Bible says in James 4:13,14 & 15. Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will we will live and do this or that.”
Since we have no guarantee about what will happen from day to day then it would make sense to depend upon God both for our everyday life as well as for our eternal destiny. Jesus made it clear to Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus had died when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” in an earlier passage as Jesus was speaking about being the bread of life said, “I tell you the truth he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life” John 6:47 & 48.
Jesus when looking at Jerusalem had a prayer request. He told his disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest that HE would send forth (thrust) laborers into the harvest field. I've been specifically praying that prayer regarding the Baptist Tent Ministry at the Missouri State Fair. It is estimated that 300,000 people will come to the Missouri State Fair during the next 11 days. Thousands will pass by the Baptist Tent. We have time slots in the next week and a half where not one person has signed up to be in the tent. In order to be effective in sharing we need at least six people per shift. Our youth group is coming the first Saturday night of the fair (the 14th) from 6 - 9 pm. We are still looking for workers for Sunday the 15th from 12 noon until 6 pm.
When was the last time you had the opportunity to share your testimony about faith in Christ? This is a great way to speak to people that you don't know that may need Jesus. We also have the opportunity if they are local to invite them to join us at Calvary.
Let's make a difference for eternity at the Missouri State Fair this year. Will you be one that will volunteer?
Because People Need Jesus.
“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. ‘The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24-30
Later Jesus explained to his disciples that the field is the world, the one sowing seed is Jesus, the seed is the Word of God, the enemy is the Devil, the wheat are God’s people and the tares (poisonous weeds) are the people of the Evil One.
What a powerful picture of the church in the fallen world! Jesus is using his church to sow Gospel seeds and his harvest is growing. More and more people around the world are hearing the Good News of Jesus and saying “yes” to the Gospel!
But Satan is sowing too. He is sowing tares, a poisonous weed which, in its early stages of growth, looks just like wheat.
There is a battle for the harvest going on. Jesus is using us to spread seeds of hope. Satan is using a form of spiritual bio-terrorism to spread poison. Jesus comes to bring life to us and to the world. But Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10.)
Chuck Swindoll preached an excellent sermon on “A World Full of Wheat and Tares” that can give us some insight into this passage as well as our current moral quandary as believers. In this sermon he makes it clear that, like the servants working in the field, many of us have the same knee jerk reaction to the tares around us. We want to pull them out by the roots, deal with evil and be done with it.
That’s what the disciples wanted to do in Luke 9:52-56 when Jesus tried to bring the Good News into a Samaritan village, “…but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
James and John wanted to pull the weeds out by the roots and burn them up right then and there. But Jesus made it clear to these “Sons of Thunder” that this was not the plan of God.
It is not our job to call down fire or tear out tares. The only evil we are called to root out is the evil in our own lives (Matthew 7:5.)
Instead, we are called to sow seed generously in the harvest field (Matthew 13:1-23) and disciple those who respond to the message. We are called to go with the goers, pray for the others and keep chucking Gospel seeds.
What about the weeds? We leave them for God, the Lord of the Harvest, to deal with on Judgment Day.
And he will.
There is a day coming where the harvesters (the angels) will bundle the weeds (sinners) and gather the wheat (saints). He will burn the weeds (in hell) and bring the wheat into his barn (aka “heaven”!)
You and I are not called to pull weeds. We are called to sow seeds.
And, as those Gospel seeds grow, they will overcome the weeds and the tares.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we refuse to speak the truth, vote our consciences, deal with injustice around us or get involved with other important issues. But it does mean that our ultimate goal is to save lost souls.
So let’s sow!
Let’s sow as many seeds as we can in as many places to have the biggest harvest that we can!
By the way, if you don’t know how to sow Gospel seeds (share the Gospel message in a clear and effective way), then download Dare 2 Share‘s free app, Life in 6 Words. It is a simple and effective way to evangelize and reap a fruitful spiritual crop.
Let’s stop pulling weeds and start sowing seeds!
Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.
Church is hard for the pastor's family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal son returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but she doesn't.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to church.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect familes.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying that God will bring them a mate.
Church is hard for sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It's hard because on the outside it looks all shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives, but, here is the beauty of church -
Church isn't a building, mentality or expectation, Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace and living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson of faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners turned saints, is where HE resides, and if we ask, HE is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church - the days when I am at odds with a friend, when I've fought with my husband because we are late once again. When I've walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I've worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I've longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I've walked back in, afraid and broken after walking away. I'll remember HE has never failed to meet me there.
We are going through some of the most difficult days in American history. The COVID crisis is enough in itself to cause our nation to be in an uproar. Life as we knew it is far from us as we social distance, wear masks, wash our hands and are kept from visiting loved ones when they are sick in the hospital or in nursing facilities. When you add to this the political turmoil of a divided nation it is almost too much to take.
As a pastor I try very hard to stay out of the political arena. One reason is that it doesn't matter what I say someone is going to disagree with me. Most people knew that whoever won the presidential election there would be almost 50% of the voters who would be disappointed. What I can't understand to save my life is why the side that lost can't accept the results. While there were many questions about the election apparently there is not enough proof to make a difference.
My suggestion is that we do what the Bible says when it comes to our leaders. We need to continue to pray for Donald Trump and Mike Pence and we should add to our daily prayer list Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Violence is not the answer and will not bring peace. We need to pray for our nation to get right with God. Will you join me in praying that God will once again bless America?
Praying for you,
Novenber 1, 2020
From the Pastor’s Corner:
What is a Christian to think or do when it comes to an election like we are facing in America? If you are anything like me you will be glad when it is finally over and the results are in. I’ve already voted and feel confident about my choices. How about you? Will you get out and voted thereby letting your conviction count? It is our distinct privilege in America to vote our conscience and conviction.
Let me remind you of some basic reasons that everyone who can should vote. Psalms 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people HE chose for his inheritance.” While I’m confident this is talking about the nation of Israel it certainly can apply to our great nation. The United States of America was founded so that people could worship God in a way that they chose. There is no state religion or church in America. We are a nation that still has many churches which preach and teach the Bible as God’s holy and inspired word. A vast majority of Americans would say that they believe in God and go to HIM in prayer on a regular basis.
We not only have a responsibility to vote we have the mandate from the Bible to be salt and light in a dark and tasteless world. The problem is that many who claim to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are not making a difference by the way they live their lives. Their manner of life is not any different than their neighbors who don’t even pretend to be believers. They are living like God is not even a part of their life. They are not shining the light of Christ so that others can see that God really does make a difference. We need to live our lives in such a way that our neighbors, friends and family have no doubt about our faith.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” What is it about your lifestyle that your friends, neighbors and family would say makes them want to know the God that you know and serve? Can they look at you as someone who lives out their faith?
When it comes down to who will serve as our next President, I’m reminded of what God said to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone HE wishes.” Daniel 5:32c. We may not agree with who wins the presidency and may not have voted for them but we need to realize that God has a plan and doesn’t consult with us about it. So while it probably matters to us we need to acknowledge that God is ultimately in charge and we need to trust HIM to do what is right.
Our responsibility is to exercise our right to vote, pray about making the right choice and then leave the results to God. Whether we vote or not the persons who are elected as President and Vice-President are there because the sovereign God has allowed them to be. We also have the privilege and opportunity to pray for those who are in authority. The Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-5 “I urge, then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those who are in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men…” I hope that you have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and redeemer and that you are striving in his grace and power to live your life in a way that is pleasing to HIM. Whatever happens in this coming election locally and across our nation let’s pledge to put aside differences and work together to make our country a better place by being better people.
Pastor Don shares from his heart in the "Calvary Connection"