This year was yet another excellent vacation Bible school at South Hickory Hill Christian Church. What a special event that was full of wonder, intrigue, laughter, and joy. VBS was a great time of worship through singing, prayer, offering, fellowship, and Bible study. I am so thankful to the Lord for the dedication our church family demonstrates in every aspect of vacation Bible school. I’ve witnessed people giving themselves first to the Lord, then to each other, having such great love for all the young ones who came to learn about Jesus. For every one who participated through planning and/or serving during this VBS- thank you for your love for our Lord and for your love for people, both young and old. I thank God for each and every one of you. Thank you also for all the parents who brought their children for this year’s VBS. We would love to have any- and all- of you to come and worship God with us. We have Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 A.M. Our worship service begins at 10:30 A.M. Our summer Bible Study for all ages begins at 6:00 P.M. We hope to see you soon.
My grandpa Wells used to say life gets tedious, don’t it? I have to admit, that in just over the half
century that I’ve been on the earth, there are times when my life has gotten tedious. There are times when I find myself being my own worst enemy. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the negativities in life, all the while forgetting the wonderful blessings from God. I guess the last couple of days were just that for me. But then while Angie and I were in town yesterday afternoon, an old friend came up. I hadn’t seen him in over three decades. He was here from out of state visiting some of his family. When he saw me, he walked over, going completely out of his way. He encouraged Angie and I in more ways than he’ll ever know. When life gets tedious an encouraging word goes a long way. It lifts one’s spirits. It heartens one’s outlook. It deepens one’s steadfastness. I’d like to encourage each of you, rather than focusing on that which is difficult, remember whose you are in Christ Jesus. And as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, in anticipation of what Christ has done for us, Paul records these words. “Therefore encourage one
another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Sometimes it’s hard to know God’s plan as we await Christ’s return. But there’s a song that the group New Song sang many years ago. Some of the lyrics go like this: When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.
We had an awesome Spring revival. I can’t believe it’s already over. Special thanks goes out to Ben Merold and Anita Newlin. Their ministries are both uplifting and challenging in the Lord. I’m sure that the messages in song and scripture will continue to edify our church family for years to come. There is no doubt that this past weekend was a tremendous time of worship and adoration of our God. Special thanks also goes to our praise and worship team who bring us to the throne of grace each and every Sunday morning. We’d also like to thank our church family and all visitors who came and shared in this special time of revival. We have been blessed. Now, let’s continually bless others as we live out the challenges and encouragements that we have received as a result of this Spring revival.
In Job 1:6-12 Satan has come before God as an accuser to the sons of God that had gathered as well. And then God asks a question that in many ways baffles the reader. Why would God ask Satan if he had considered God’s servant Job? And Satan said, what’s the use for God has given him everything. And God responded by saying, “You can take away anything except do not put your hand on him.” So Satan left God’s presence and went to work.
Devastation wreaked havoc on all that Job had and only one servant in each place escaped in order to tell Job just what had happened. One satanic anathema after another until the final blow. A mighty wind blew destroying Job’s eldest son’s house, killing all of Job’s children.
How would you respond? What would your reaction be? One moment you are so blessed, all your needs are provided in abundance, and the next moment all is lost. Tragedy wreaks havoc in all your business and all your family. Job had no idea (I believe) that God had this conversation with Satan. Do you think God has had a similar conversation about you?
As was with Job, we are unaware of why things are falling apart around us. But like Job, our response is of utmost importance. The sin that Satan is tempting us with is an anger that leads to spiritual death. Blaming God for all that is bad, all the while forgetting that God gives us all that is good. Job’s example is perfect. In verse 22 Job bowed down and worshipped. See, God was right. Satan could not beat Job down. Rather, through trials and suffering, Job showed his strength in the Lord when he fell to his knees and worshipped.
It’s my prayer that I respond in this way. It’s my prayer that I will worship God no matter my circumstances. It’s my prayer that God would get all the glory. It’s my prayer that I would be an example to those around me. While we may not receive a double portion of everything after Satan has done everything to destroy us, God does promise that He will work all things for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Perhaps you have already experienced this process of growing from weakness. And perhaps you find yourself unable to identify as nothing like this has occurred in your life. The important thing is that we dedicate every day to the Lord. Every thought, every motive, must be worship unto Him. And then no matter, come what may, no devastation will cause us to sin. For greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
On March 24th I’m going to preach the sermon from Matthew 5:21-26. With these verses Jesus is teaching that malicious anger against another person is just as sinful as committing murder. Now we have far too many examples of murders being committed on a daily basis. Just today 49 were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand. That man has been captured and is unable to commit any other murders, but what about the other 80+ people that he left injured. The intent of his heart was to kill as many as possible. The sin goes beyond 49 murders. His sin includes all those that he put in his crosshairs and yet were not killed. But his sin goes even beyond that. For even those he wanted to shoot-those he wanted to kill. The intentions of his heart are, in and of themselves, the sin of murder. It’s not so difficult to realize the atrocious sinful actions became manifest out of atrocious sinful anger. They are in fact one and the same. Bringing this closer to home, let’s consider for a moment the connection between murder and thoughts of anger. We might assume that because we have not committed murder, we are therefore ok. But, in light of Jesus’ teaching, how close have we gotten to committing murderous sin in our dealings with fellow man? Have we ever been riddled with such anger that we’ve wanted someone to die? Have we ever wanted to hurt someone so badly that we’re callous to the effects of our anger toward another? Does a situation of road rage rise to this level in your life? Do you have such struggles in your professional life that strife with co workers or even supervisors leaves one or more parties deeply injured? Do family rifts cut so deeply that you’ve stopped trying? Have you ever withheld the love of Jesus because of how they might have hurt you or someone you love?
The intention of the heart does matter. Has Jesus ever convicted you of such sin? Isn’t forgiveness awesome? Let me hear from you.
Our nation’s debt has topped 22 trillion dollars in recent days. The promise was that the debt would go down quickly with the change of administrations. While that hasn’t happened, jobs and salaries have been rejuvenated with deregulation and tax cuts. While many in our country have benefited, there are yet many more who don’t feel the difference in their wallet.
The news in our country, indeed the world, is increasingly bad. There are tragedies that happen to fellow mankind- maybe even you, personally- and there are atrocities committed with evil intent by far too many of mankind. Such pressure, combined with such evil, can prove to be back-breakingly heavy as we strive to live out our days here on earth. These devastating conditions test our faith and ultimately, our faithfulness in Christ. In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul reminds us that we must learn to be content, no matter the circumstances. Even before Paul, Habakkuk helps us understand the faith we must display.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 --
“17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
While the life that we live proves difficult daily, life is exponentially better when we remember where the praise belongs. Jesus never said it would be easy, but he did say that He did say that He would be with us always. My family and I trust Him, and so should you.
Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. NASB, Philippians 3:17-19
How often do you weep for the lost?
Psalm 121, Verses 1 & 2-
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.”
The background for this psalm runs akin to our situation today. Humans from all over were replacing worship of the true God with worship of false gods (idols). Sound familiar? Some of the gods they worshipped include the god of fertility, god of insects, god of frogs, etc. Some of the gods worshipped today include money, sex, power, etc. Some of their so-called gods required infant sacrifices, some form of prostitution, and many other rituals limited only to the creativity of depraved mankind. Some idolatrous practices today include various forms of self-absorption, greed, self-centered ascension, deception, all forms of depravity, etc. We may compare their idol worship with that of today and say, “At least we don’t participate in infant sacrifice.” Not so fast! The infant sacrifice in this day-and-age is made manifest through abortion. Many of their idols were erected in areas referred to as high places. These idolaters would ascend on hilltops so as to get closer to their worthless gods. While today’s idol worshippers don’t necessarily go to high places, many choose to get high on drugs as a way of escape. They hide in dark corners to feed their lustful minds with various forms of pornography. They neglect their families in their quest for wealth, etc. As I give away my position on the matter by referring to them as worthless idols, the psalmist has quite a lot to teach us even while using very few words. The idolaters were ascending to these high places in order to receive “help” from these gods, which were made of wood or stone, by manipulating them with whatever sacrifice was required. The psalmist, however, is acknowledging that our only help comes from the one true God who is not found in the high places of idol worship. Rather, He is the one who created the mountains, the seas, and the universe in all of its glory and splendor. Therefore, let us participate in the true call for worship of God Most High by proclaiming the message of the gospel to all who will listen.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.
Those words bring solace to many people. Whether it’s bad news across the globe or whether it’s a personal crisis, we all want to know that everything is going to be all right. When our present is disastrous, we need the assurance that our future will be realigned with excellence. We wish that we could skip all this bad stuff- all the evil in this world- but reality dictates that we must endure the present trials and suffering. We try to claim Jeremiah 29:11 in the here-and-now, but we have to realize that context is important in every situation of life. While God said “I know the plans I have for you,” in the verses following, God tells them that they must enter into a time of exile.
I know this question is deeply personal, but it is of eternal significance. Where are you in this context of life? Do you find yourself lost in the chaos and sinfulness of this world? Are you walking in exile- in the discipline of God? Only Jesus can bridge this path of destruction with the life that is realized in Jeremiah 29:11. Please believe me when I tell you… better yet, please believe God’s Gospel where He tells you that He loves you so very much, that the plans that He has made for our good includes the atoning death of His own Son so that we are released from sin and death, living in the promise of having right relationship with God.
I am excited about our spring revival and I want to invite all of you to come because it’s gonna be great. Get this- Ben Merold is our speaker. If you have heard him before, you’ve gotta come and hear him again, and if you haven’t heard him before, you’ve got to come and hear him. You won’t want to miss this special weekend. So please save these dates: April 12th, 13th, & 14th. We’re going to have a wonderful time of singing and hearing Ben preach God’s word on Friday & Saturday at 7 P.M. and again on Sunday at 9:30 A.M. Ben is also going to be leading us in an Elder’s Clinic on Saturday from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. This will be a great time of learning for all who are elders and all who hope to become elders. Lunch will be provided but if you wish to contribute, donations will be accepted for our youth group. In order that we may know how much food to prepare, in the near future, we’ll set up a Facebook event so we can get an accurate count of everyone who’s coming. So please mark your calendars for April 12th-14th and make plans to come to South Hickory Hill Christian Church.
Stacy accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at the age of seven, at which time he also dedicated himself to full-time Christian ministries in the future. He has served as a preaching minister for a total 27 years. He has served in cross-cultural missions for a total of 17 years to 10 countries. He has also taught as an adjunct professor for a total of 16 years.