Do you know these men— Stephen Hopkins, George Read, and William Ellery?
It is hard to believe that it is the end of the month and now halfway through 2017! And it does not seem possible that this weekend is the 4th of July Weekend.
But this is the time that we as Americans can and should celebrate the privilege that we have of living in a free country.
It seems that most people take this freedom for granted. It is assumed and expected. It is abused in some ways. And many are fearful that our true freedoms are being taken from us.
Be that as it may, we have what most of the population in this vast world would love to have—freedom!
I am grateful for our freedoms. I am patriotic. I love the annual fireworks displays. I love some of the songs that speak of our freedom in America. I thank God for the privilege of living in this country.
But freedom is and was costly.
Do you remember these words, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Those are, of course, the final words of the Declaration of Independence. Have you read that document in recent years? If not, then perhaps you should. I read it and was reminded of the foundations for the battle for our freedoms. It is humbling to read. And it is even more humbling when you realize the cost of freedom to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Do you know these men— Roger Sherman, Francis Lewis, Thomas Stone?
How about these men— Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Carter Braxton and Button Gwinnett?
Now you see it if you did not earlier. These are some of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. And yes, it was costly for them and so many others—more than even history can ever tell us.
I am thankful for men and women throughout history who have served, fought and died for our freedom. Thank you to each of them.
And yet there is a final thought. Though we live in a free country, the majority of people that you know and who live in our country are not really free. They are bound by sin. And they need true freedom that is found in Christ alone. So, while you celebrate our freedom, remember that only we as believers are truly free. Give thanks to Jesus Christ our Savior. And pray for the lost, those who do not have freedom.
“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” [C.T. Studd—missionary to China, India and Africa]
May we be grateful— and salt and light…and sacrificial!
It came with little attention or notice this week. It rarely makes the news. Other things are in the news. Every day there is news. I am sure that it was mentioned on a few websites and on some obscure page of the newspapers…even newspapers are becoming somewhat rare or at least their viability is in question.
But it happened. In fact, it happens every year on or about this time. This year it happened while many of you were sleeping. It occurred on Wednesday June 21 at 12:24 am EDT. It is called the Summer Solstice. We call it the beginning of Summer. And it will last until Friday Sept. 22 of this year.
So what’s the big deal? It really isn’t a big deal. Sometimes it is nice that there is not a “big deal” [the news media has made everything a “big deal”]. It is also nice that you can count on it every year—CONSISTENCY. So that is a big deal. Every year whether you think about it or not, the seasons change— no matter what!
It is the way that God created it to be in the beginning:
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:14 – And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years . . .
Genesis 8:22 – While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
When the seasons change, it is a reminder that God is on the throne and everything is going according to His plans and purposes. CONSISTENCY!
Job 42:2 – “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…”
A few other Scriptural reminders for us to remember are:
For ministers and teachers of God’s Word.
2 Timothy 4:2–4, "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
For everyone being tested.
James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
For those who are waiting.
Isaiah 40:31 – but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
We are now into Summer. I know it will get hot and muggy and people will go on vacations and there will be outdoor activities and leisure, etc. Amidst all of that, just remember the faithfulness and consistency of our God. The change into the Summer season reminds us of that. And then we will see it again in Fall, Winter, Spring and then Summer again until all the plans and purposes of God are completely fulfilled.
I hope this is better news than what you often find from other news sources!
Finally, would you take a few minutes between now and Sunday to pray for our church services and for me as well.
We would all have to agree that there is evil in this world. I know that is not the most encouraging way to begin a weekly email but there is an important point that needs to be made that we cannot overlook. This week, as every week, there have been evil things that have happened in our communities and cities and nation and in the world. There have been murders and rapes and theft and corrupt business deals and on and on.
Living in this world and hearing of these things as we are flooded with the news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we grow tired and weary of hearing it. We can even become insensitive to what is going on around us. We might get discouraged and have thoughts of giving up. Even as believers we might ask, “What’s the use? Nothing happens, nothing changes and things get worse every day and every year.”
I was recently made aware of the ongoing invasion of evil ideas that is going on in our culture as I attended a public meeting in which the topic of “abstinence” (referring to youth sexual behavior) was discussed. I sat—and prayed—as I got a fresh glimpse of the lies that have so filled the minds of many in our society. It was a picture of an ever deepening acceptance of depravity. In fact, the concept of depravity or anything that the Bible calls sin is getting lost under the guise of “tolerance and acceptance.” And those who take a stand for Biblical values are marginalized, mocked and even accused of doing evil. This sounds like Isaiah 5:20, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"
This should not surprise us. I know we grieve over what is happening in our society and we should. But we live in an evil world. Our Enemy Satan is in opposition to all that is godly, all that is Biblical, all who are believers. We can expect that we are going to face opposition. Jesus reminded His disciples about this in John 15:18-27. If you have a minute, please read that passage. It would fit the headlines of today regarding believers. As Jesus said, John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
Now, we should not be discouraged when we see the evil in our world. God has us here at this exact time in history to be salt and light. He has us here to tell the good news. He has us here to witness of the life transforming power of Jesus Christ. We are here by divine appointment.
Let us make sure that we are truly redeeming the time and using every opportunity to share Christ. Do not be afraid or ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can speak with clarity and compassion, in love and in truth. Your testimony for Christ can and should be verbal and in your lifestyle.
Be the light that scatters the darkness! And remember, Romans 11:1–5:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
That is a potent reminder for us!
I look forward to worshipping together with you this Sunday. We will be blessed to hear from one of our missionary families who have been actively engaged in scattering the darkness. Chris Seawright and his family will be with us.
We will also be honoring all the Dads in our service for Father’s Day.
And would you take a few minutes between now and Sunday to pray for our church services and for me as well.
A lot of people love to go camping! It is true of many in our church but in the summer months it is a “national pastime” for many. Just a side note—in years of teaching a class about the family I would ask what was the best thing that the students had done as a family and invariably it had something to do with camping. This was usually from students who had strong family relationships. Of course, there are many forms of camping. For Vickie, camping looked like Holiday Inn or something like that!
There is another kind of camp that has an impact on lives–Christian camp, like where our teens are this week at the WILDS. Vickie and I got to go see our teens there this week. We enjoyed our visit and overnight stay so much. We got to sit in on a service and heard a challenging message. We got to see the teens in their games and competitions. We got to eat cookies with the teens in the coffee shop. We got to eat a couple of meals there. We even played miniature golf!
It has been a long time since I was the teen at a camp. But I did get to go a couple of times as a teen. So, did it make a difference in my life? I do remember the camp. It was Piney Woods Camp in East Texas. I do not remember the camp speaker. I do not remember the messages that he preached.
And there is something else I remember. I remember that there was a night that week that I surrendered my life to the Lord for full time service. I was 13 years old. And this summer marks 47 years ago that I was challenged and made that decision.
I am sure that I did not know what it all meant. I could have no idea of the implications. I only knew that I wanted to serve the Lord somehow in the ministry. And I have been in some kind of full time vocational ministry since I was 17 years old. The only other job I ever had was to work at Radio Shack for about 2 weeks one summer. And I worked for my Dad.
Of course, it is the grace of God and no merit of my own to be able to serve the Lord. I thank God for the privilege.
But I want to make a point. Young people can make decisions for Christ that last a lifetime!
So please pray for our teens when they are at camp, on missions trips, going to youth activities and all the other venues in which their lives are being touched with Biblical truth. Pray for the parents of teens and children. It is a great challenge to be a parent today with so many things pulling at or against their teens. Take your church directory and pray for each of the children and teens that you see. I don’t have to encourage you to pray for your own children and close relatives but I want to encourage you to keep it up.
Vickie has reminded me many times that it is better to pray and fast for our children before they make wrong decision because most assuredly we would after.
So pray for them NOW! And don’t stop. Remember, God is at work in unseen ways. And they can make good, godly permanent decisions in serving and following the Lord during these years.
Thanks to all those who work with our teens.
And thanks to my youth pastor, Marlin Lance who endured much from me as a teen. Thanks to the two pastors that I sat under as I grew up—Howard Shelton and Jack Bridges. And thanks to a preacher who I do not remember that challenged me to surrender my life to Christ in full time service. And thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!
Please pray for all our teens both home and abroad this week. And would you take a few minutes between now and Sunday to pray for our church services and for me as well. I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you on Sunday.
Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
I think you know what a “rhetorical question” is. Here is the definition: “A rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question that is asked to make a point rather than to elicit an answer.” You are not really expected to give an answer to this sort of question.
There is a longer section of Scripture in which we see this. It is Job 38:1–42:6. As you read through this you will find over 70 questions that God asks Job. I think as you read this you will also find that there is no real way to answer the questions that God asks. That is why I take them as rhetorical. Now, Job did respond to God on two occasions. In them you will find agreement and repentance—which are the only two ways we should respond to God when He confronts us. We should agree with what God says (the implication is that what God does is just and right whether we think so or not) and we should repent of any attitude toward God that is less than trust and worship.
Notice a commentary on this passage in one commentary:
What was the purpose of God’s rebuking response? By displaying His power and wisdom, God showed Job his ignorance and impatience. How could Job comprehend or control God’s ways with man, when he could not comprehend or control God’s government in nature? Since Job could not answer God on these matters how could he hope to debate with God? Since God has His own ways and designs in the sky and with animals, does He not also have His own purposes in His dealings with people? Though people cannot understand God’s doings, they can trust Him. Worship should stem from an appreciation of God Himself, not a comprehension of all God’s ways. Though puzzled, people should still praise. (Zuck, Roy B. “Job.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck. Vol. 1. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985. 766. Print.)
Misfortune does not mean God has forsaken His own. It does mean He has plans that the sufferer may know nothing of. A believer’s unmerited tragedy may never be fully understood. Yet he can realize that God is in charge, that God still loves him and cares for him.
So here in God’s Word we find the answer to the unanswerable question of why God does what He does or allows what He allows. It is really a question of trust when we do not understand. And we actually do not understand. His ways are not our ways, they are past finding out.
Perhaps this is not what you are hoping to hear when you are asking “why?”. There are many other aspects to this beyond what I have shared with you here. But if we simply get to the place of complete trust and genuine worship it will literally change our viewpoint. And in this we will discover that there is no room for bitterness in our lives. There is no reason for us to forsake our faith in God. There is no question that God is God.
I am humbled and encouraged to consider this. I hope you are as well.
In closing, I encourage you to pray for our services, for our church and for me as well. Would you take a few private moments between now and Sunday morning to pray?
I look forward to worshipping the Lord together with you this Sunday. Please join us.
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.