Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday Review

Sunday was an absolutely splendid day of worship at GSJ. I woke up with less anxiety and apprehension than normal because prior arrangements were made to allow Pastor Jim Mickelson, of Calvary Baptist Church, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin to preach our early service. He assisted me in a wedding ceremony the day before, so I asked him if he would preach our early service before returning home, to which he graciously obliged. He preached a message from Acts 19:12ff. Although I’m not at liberty to post his outline let me say that he was well received and the message was timely, terrific and thought provoking. To my surprise, this was his first time preaching to a predominately African- American Church Family, an honor that was greatly appreciated and cherished.

l to r: Mrs. Mickelson, Pastor Mickelson, Pastor & Mrs. McGhee

We were also blessed by the presence of staff and 180 youth from Camp Ray Bird, a Christian Ministry Camp that shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with “at risk” youth all across Michiana. Camp Director, Mike Houghtaling and I have met for food and fellowship on occasion and a spiritual bond has been formed between our church and the camp with many ministry opportunities forthcoming. Every year, at least once, we are favored with a visit from this remarkable group of campers, so we have grown accustomed to their being a part of our church fellowship. We continue to marvel at the manner in which the children behaved and were blessed to see them take an active role in worship. I am scheduled to visit Camp Ray Bird on Tuesday, and look forward to further involvement with this ministry as we explore ways to collectively advance God’s Kingdom together. Please keep this Ministry in your prayers and feel free to visit them on the web

This Sunday was also “Big Day” for our Sunday School Department. Each year efforts are made by our School membership to invite and encourage people within our church and possibly the unchurched who don’t normally attend Sunday school. It’s amazing how many people responded just because you asked. We praise God for the fruit of everyone's labor of love.

During the 11am service, I preached a sermon entitled “The Church That Advances God’s Kingdom,” taken from Matthew 28:18-20 which reads:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)

The Lord moved in a Mighty way as HIS Word went forth. I felt real good about preaching this message because I’ve always challenged our church to never lose sight of our true purpose. We exist for the express purpose and the specific intent of glorifying God through the living out of His biblical agenda. There were several present who rededicated their lives to Jesus and have vowed to not just be members of the church but rather disciples of Christ. I certainly pray that God would impress upon others the urgency to do the same. Here is a brief outline of the message.

The Church That Advances God’s Kingdom

I. Functions Under the Authority of Christ

a) All power is given unto Me - v.18

II. Faithful to the Assignments of Christ

a) Evangelize ; Go (as you are going) v.19a

b) Enlist ; teaching all nations , make disciples; Baptize - v.19b

c) Equip ; Teaching them to observe all things – v.19c

III. Fortified by the Assurance of Christ

a) Lo I am with you always - v.20

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we will do the same. Peace!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

God's Glorious Gift

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

Tonight was the concluding night of a weeklong “Spiritual Roundup”, sponsored by the Senior Women’s Auxiliary of our Northwestern District Association, Pastor Steven R. Barnes, serves as Moderator.

Several area pastors along with their congregations gathered each night at GSJ for prayer, praise and preaching. This program was the first major initiative of our current Women’s President, Juanita Kyle. I was bestowed the honor of preaching the closing service and the Lord showed Himself strong in a mighty way. I preached a sermon entitled “God’s Glorious Gift” taken from Ephesians 2:8-9. The message served as a reminder that we who were once dead, depraved, dominated by Satan and in danger of God’s wrath, have now been delivered through the saving grace of God without any deeds of our own. Even though the text mentions grace and faith, and they are gifts themselves, the context of this verse, against the backdrop of the entire chapter, shows us that the glorious gift of salvation is the main thrust. Here’s a brief outline:

I. It Is Provided By Grace

II. It Is Procured Through Faith

III. It is Proven By Works

The atmosphere was filled with the sacrifice of praise and the aroma of rich Christian fellowship. I am so thankful to the members of GSJ, who worked untiringly to host our District this week. You guys are the best and pastor loves you.

Well, I must get some sleep because I have a full day on tomorrow. In the morning, we host our Annual Health Fair, and in the afternoon I will share in the wedding ceremony of a son of the church. Please pray that the Lord grant me renewed strength for tomorrow’s opportunities to serve Him. God Bless.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Walls of Resistance

I have a devotional in my library authored by Warren W. Wiersbe, entitled “Pause for Power: A Year in the Word.” It is becoming more of an invaluable tool day by day with wholesome nuggets and provocative food for thought. My meditation for today was no exception, so I'm taking the time to share it with you, my fellow blogging constituents. This meditation is tailored to encourage us not to allow the stronghold of pride to rob us of a clear Word from God.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We . . . take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" – 2 Cor. 10:4-5

“There are walls of resistance in the minds of people, and these walls must be pulled down. What are these "mental walls"? Reasonings that are opposed to the truth of God's Word. Pride of intelligence that exalts itself. Paul was not attacking intelligence, but intellectualism, the high-minded attitude that makes people think they know more than they really do. Paul faced this "wisdom of men" when he founded the church (1 Cor. 1:18ff), and it had surfaced again with the coming of the Judaizers.

Paul's attitude of humility was actually one of his strongest weapons, for pride plays right into the hands of Satan. The meek Son of God had far more power than Pilate (see John 19:11), and He proved it. Paul used spiritual weapons to tear down the opposition—prayer, the Word of God, love, the power of the Spirit at work in his life. He did not depend on personality, human abilities, or even the authority he had as an apostle. However, he was ready to punish the offenders, if necessary, once the congregation had submitted to the Lord.

Many believers today do not realize that the church is involved in warfare, and those who do understand the seriousness of the Christian battle do not always know how to fight the battle. They try to use human methods to defeat demonic forces, and these methods are doomed to fail.”

I needed this word because occasionally, I have to admonish those who because of stubborn pride have the unmitigated gall to reject clear biblical precepts. If we are not careful, we will wander aimlessly into the same trap. Don’t let it happen!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday In Indy

Sunday, I was pleased to worship with Dr. Wayne L. Moore & the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana. Sometime ago, he invited me to preach their 8am & 11am worship services. I was more than happy to oblige. We are quickly becoming good friends which is rare these days. I am grateful for the blossoming friendship and fellowship that Pastor Moore and I share, and pray vigorously for his continued prosperity. He recently accepted the challenge to serve as president of our State Convention and is doing a phenomenal job. His church really loves and respects him as pastor /teacher. Although much of the membership did not know me personally, the warmth and hospitality shown me and my family was second to none.

The Lord truly blessed our time in the Word as we shared during the 8am worship a message entitled “The Believers Profile” taken from Romans chapter one verse one. The congregation responded very well to the presentation and I was blessed to see former members of GSJ who relocated to Indianapolis and also those who have family at GSJ. Here is a sample of the outline:

The Believers Profile - Romans 1:1

I. Saved (was Saul: “big one”; now Paul: “little one”)

II. Slave (bond slave; servant)

III. Sent (sent by authority with a commission)

IV. Separated unto (separated out from unto; to have a new horizon)

At the 11am worship, I shared a message entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” using as a text, Matthew 6:25ff. The text cautions us not to fret over the basic necessities of life (i.e. what to eat; wear etc.). The thrust of the message was to discourage the sin of worry while encouraging believers to trust the providential Hand of God through faithful obedience to His Word. It was not my original intent to preach this message, however, God always knows what’s best. Since I am in His employ, it behooves me to adhere to His direction that He may receive the ultimate glory.

I am truly grateful to Dr. Moore & the entire Olivet Family for going all out to make us comfortable and solicit your prayers for my new friends in the faith. I am also pleased to learn that all was well at home. Special thanks to Rev. Fred Brown and Rev. Eugene Johnson for standing in my absence and the church for receiving them warmly. Pray for us as we start another work week. Our prayer is that God will grant us sufficient grace for the work awaiting us. God Be Praised!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Appreciating A Shepherd

Last evening, the family and I traveled to Gary, Indiana, to share with the Pilgrim Baptist Church who honored Pastor Charles L. Emery & Family with a 30th Year Pastoral Anniversary Banquet at the Genesis Convention Center.

The banquet was a culmination of services held the prior weekend as many pastors, elected officials, guest churches and sons in the ministry gathered to express appreciation, affection and adoration for his ministry to church, community and even the country. An honor was bestowed upon me to serve as Toastmaster for this great occasion. I was not sure how it would turn out seeing that I’ve never served in this capacity, but those present expressed appreciation for how smoothly we went along, so I am grateful. The theme for this occasion was “The Shepherd’s Love for the Sheep” taken from John 21:15-17 which says:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 (ESV)

Usually, pastors ask one of their ministerial colleagues to serve as keynote speaker for such occasions, however, Pastor Emery chose a different route this time. Mrs. Coraetta Rollins, a member of Friendship Baptist Church, Indianapolis, and one who has served as Leader of the Women's Auxiliary in The General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Indiana, did a marvelous job expounding on the theme and gave great encouragement to many of the pastors present. I have always respected this seasoned woman of God and her work in the church and convention speaks for itself. It was a joy to see her and hear her speak.

Pastor Emery is a prolific preacher, a dynamic leader, a visionary pastor and world renowned evangelist, who has touched the lives of countless people across the length and breadth of this country. I spent my formative years under his capable leadership and I am thankful to God for the many things I learned at his feet. I am the preacher, pastor and person I am today largely because of what God did through his influence upon my life.

We had a wonderful evening and all present came away thrilled that they were able to spend this time honoring such a great Man of God. Please pray for the continued success of Pastor Emery and his labor of love at the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Day In Your Courts

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10 (ESV)

Today at GSJ was yet another celebration honoring our Senior Ushers Ministry for faithful service to our church. The Lord blessed us with a rather jubilant worship experience during our 8am and 11am services. We have one of, if not the largest, group of ushers in our community and we work them very hard. Nevertheless, they always seem to step up to the plate and do us proud. To God be the glory for such an invaluable part of our overall church ministry. I solicit your continual prayers for them as they serve the Lord with gladness and stand for the Lord graciously in the sanctuary of our God.

I preached a message from Psalm 84 entitled “A Day in Your Courts.” Psalm 84 is a psalm of longing, longing for God's house, and it is by the Sons of Korah who were temple singers from the Tribe of Levi. Charles Haddon Spurgeon called Psalm 84 "one of the choicest of the collection." He wrote, "If the twenty-third be the most popular, the one-hundred-and-third the most joyful, the one-hundred-and-nineteenth the most deeply experimental, the fifty-first the most plaintive, this is one of the most sweet of the Psalms of Peace.”

I must confess this was not one of my easier attempts at exposition due to the many different interpretations of the text among several respected biblical theologians. Some believe this Psalm has a Davidic overtone even though there is no evidence to support it. Still others believe this Psalm highlights pilgrims making their way up to Jerusalem for one of the three annual feasts in the temple.

Although scholars do not all agree with respect to the origin of this beloved Psalm, the objective is abundantly clear, and that is, to emphasize the writer’s intense desire to worship God in the temple and the blessedness of dwelling in the House of God. If the sparrow can find a home there, and the swallow can make a nest for herself and her young, surely it will do us well to make our abode in His house a priority.

The congregation was challenged to not confuse the mere showing up for church with actual worship. Oftentimes we are guilty of coming to church for a couple of hours on Sunday, going through our regular routine without spending quality time worshipping God in the beauty of His holiness. We put so much emphasis on the place without regard to the very Person who makes the place special. I am so thankful the Lord led me to visit this passage and give Him glory for the fruit I’ve been able to witness already.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hidden Treasure

"We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:7).

Sometimes God permits our vessels to be jarred so that some of the treasure will spill out and enrich others. Suffering reveals not only the weakness of man but also the glory of God. Paul presented a series of paradoxes in this paragraph: earthen vessels—power of God; the dying Jesus—the life of Jesus; death working—life working. The natural mind cannot understand this kind of spiritual truth and therefore cannot understand why Christians triumph over suffering.

Not only must we focus on the treasure and not on the vessel, but we must also focus on the Master and not on the servant. If we suffer, it is for Jesus' sake. If we die to self, it is that the life of Christ might be revealed in us. If we go through trials, it is so that Christ might be glorified. And all of this is for the sake of others. As we serve Christ, death works in us—but life works in those to whom we minister.

Dr. John Henry Jowett said, "Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing." He was right. A pastor friend and I once heard a young man preach an eloquent sermon, but it lacked something. "There was something missing," I said to my friend, and he replied, "Yes, and it won't be there until his heart is broken. After he has suffered awhile, he will have a message worth listening to."

-Warren W. Wiersbe, Pause for Power: A Year in the Word

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My New Account

Today was another great day in the Word of God. I am currently teaching a verse by verse, section by section exposition of the book of Romans during our midweek services. We are in chapter four (4) where Paul illustrates the doctrine of justification by faith using two Old Testament heroes in Abraham and David. Abraham discovers justification by faith prior to circumcision and the giving of the Law thus we conclude that he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. David on the other hand describes justification by faith in that it is only for the ungodly. Paul’s point was that no one deserves nor can they earn justification by faith. Consequently, it is a free gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary. If one could earn salvation it robs God of glory and makes what Christ did for us of no effect.

One of the interesting things I pointed out to the class was Paul’s interchangeable use of the terms imputation, count and reckon which appear some eleven (11) times throughout the chapter. These terms mean to put or charge to ones account. They are financial terms which denote an action performed on someone else’s behalf. There are three major imputations in scripture. They are as follows:

1. Adam's sin was imputed to the human race.

Romans 5:12—Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

1 Corinthians 15:22—For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

2. Our sin was imputed to Christ.

Isaiah 53:5—But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:11—He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Hebrews 2:9—But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
1 Peter 2:24—Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

3. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us when we believe in Him.

Philippians 3:9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

2 Corinthians 5:21--- For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I certainly hope this morsel of our journey through Romans prove beneficial to you as together we praise God for justification by grace through faith. Thank God my old account is settled and is no longer a factor and my new account is irrevocable. What an unspeakable gift!!!!