Archive for December, 2020

Doing Nothing by Yourself (John 4-5)

December 31, 2020

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing, John 5:19

This past weekend our grandson came to see us with his mom and dad. It was a special time together. My grandson (Colt Matthew) is full of life. I noticed in everything he did, he wanted to be independent. There were moments when he became frustrated because he had to ask for help and there were other moments when he became frustrated because we would not let him be independent because he was in danger of hurting himself.

I think you and I can see the point of where God is leading us on the last day of the year. In John 5 I found myself cut to the heart as I followed Jesus example of not independence but of total dependence on God. Beginning in verse 19 of chapter 5 Jesus defends His person as the Son of God.

I was amazed as I recounted Jesus earthly fellowship with God. His example challenges me in every way. Notice the following:

  • Jesus did nothing independently of the Father, 5:19.

Jesus joined the Father in all He was doing, 5:20-21. Jesus followed the Father’s directions and Jesus carried out the Father’s assignments, 5:23.

  • Jesus had no independent game plan apart from the Father, 5:30.

Jesus listen to the Father’s instructions. Jesus loved to do His Fathers will.

Brothers and sisters, this truth is amazing for me and I hope it is for you. Because of Jesus dependent mindset, the works Jesus did bore witness that He was sent by the Father. I wonder, what are you trying to accomplish in this life? Are you seeking to be seen as an independent person or are you seeking to be seen as one who is totally dependent on God?

It is my desire that my life and your life would give witness to the amazing truth that God is on the throne of our lives. If He is on the throne of our lives people will see us as light reflectors of the glory of the Lord.

What to do with the light (John 3)

December 30, 2020

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:21

It almost always happens when Sherry and I travel and stay in a motel. As we are going to bed she will attempt to leave the bathroom light on so that we can see in the night. She will almost close the door with just a little light coming out. She will get in bed and then a few minutes later she will get up and close the door while saying, I cannot sleep with all this light in the room.

This is truly a problem. Sherry wants the comfort of the light but she likes the darkness of the night. In John three a guy by the name of Nick comes to Jesus at night. The light of Jesus (John 1:4-5) has been drawing this Pharisee. Others had been rejecting the Light (John 1:11) but this man was being drawn close (John 1:12). The question on his mind and heart was: what should he do with the light?

Nick was genuinely struggling between the light and the darkness. Jesus response to Him was truly a moment filled with light. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” For this to happen in Nick’s life he would have to believe in Jesus by faith (Heb. 11:6).

This faith comes to each of us when we are first in the dark. Jesus challenges Nick by pointing out that even though he cannot see the wind he feels its impact. Oh this is so good. Even though Nick could not visibly see himself being born again, he would be able to feel and see the impact of Jesus in his life.

Jesus came so that people could come to the light of John 3:16-17. What is so sad is when people reject the light.

We ask, why would people reject the light? Lean into John 3:19-20

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

People reject the light when they love their sin and when they do not see any need of walking in another direction. But when a person sees the light he or she is compelled to embrace the light. How does a person know they are in the light? What did Jesus say:

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

  1. Our actions of life have changed. We want to be people who do what is right in God’s sight (John 3:21).
  2. Our attitudes of life have changed. Each day we want to make sure God is leading our lives. I love how the Psalmist evidences such a life in Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

As we approach a new year I would like to challenge you to walk more in His light. A dark world is desperate for the light.

Joy in the Winter (John 2)

December 29, 2020

10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:10

It happened at the end of our second Christmas Eve service last week. John and I were headed home around 11:15 Pm. As we got to the car John said, “look its starting to snow.” Brothers and sisters I could not help but rejoice. I had been asking God for weeks for a little snow. After we got home it started to snow even more (Which is a miracle in Jackson). I even went out and stood in the snow as it was coming down.

Now, I know for those of you who get a lot of snow you have a different view. I also know that people have different views about what brings joy into a person’s life. For some people its family, for others its fortune and fame. Question: What is it that brings lasting joy?

In the gospel of John we are realizing that true joy only comes from a relationship with Jesus. In John 4 Jesus says these timeless words to a joy searching lady:

The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 4:14b

Jesus offered this woman true joy. In our focal text in John 2 we see an illustration of how Jesus alone gives true joy. Take time to read John 2: 1-11.

Three things stand out to me:

  1. Jesus was invited to the celebration.

This was a wedding celebration that was the highlight of most people’s year. But the celebration ran out because the wine ran out. Now you need to know that wine in the Old Testament represented joy (not in getting drunk) but in the joy of the Holy Spirit. When the joy ran out, the crowd was in trouble.

2. Jesus invests in the celebration.

Jesus is asked to do something about the joy. Jesus investment leads to a greater joy than anyone could have imagined. Yes, it was wine and yes the wine would run out. But the illustration is clear, Jesus alone creates true and lasting joy.

3. Jesus is always inviting people to His celebration.

He is the one who offers us life and joy. I hope you will take the time today to discover the God who gives us joy. I pray you will take the time to drink in the joy of the Lord and I pray that you will each day give what you have been given!!!

Do you need a Light? (John 1)

December 28, 2020

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9

Both John and I love flashlights. It must be a guy thing. One of the silly things we do with our flashlights is to see who can blind the other person with their flashlight, we are sinners by the way. A few nights ago we both said to the other, “my light is brighter than yours.” We both knew the only way to solve our debate was to go into a dark room and test our flashlights. I being the oldest went first. My light illuminated the dark room. It was impressive, that is until John shinned his flashlight. Dear friends, my light was nothing compared to his. His light greatly illuminated the dark room.

As you and I come to the end of 2020, I must ask, do you need a light? Let me dig deeper, do you need a better light than you have been following in 2020? In John 1 we are pointed to the one light that outshines all other lights. We are pointed to “The Light of the World.”

In John 1 we read about how John the Baptist mission in life was to be a reflector of the light of the world. Oh how encouraging this was in my life. I realize Jesus is the light that will give light to all who believe in Him. I realized the church has the same call as John the Baptizer.

Consider for a few moments the ministry of John The Baptist:

  1. His light reflecting was successful because he obeyed God’s call on his life.

In 1:20-23 John shined the light on Jesus and John took his proper place as a humble servant of Jesus.

2. His light reflecting was successful because he proclaimed the greatness of Christ.

In 1:26-31 John revealed to the world who this one is who came into the world.

3. His light reflecting was successful because he personally knew the Lord.

In 1:31-32 John confessed, I did not know the Lord, but the Lord told me that I would know Him when He spoke to me.

The third point is the first point in our journey of becoming a light-reflector for Jesus. Our confidence in being light reflectors in this anti-Christian world comes as we grow in our love and understanding of who He is. John the Apostle wrote: “The true light which giveth light to everyone was coming into the world.”

You and I know, Jesus own countrymen rejected Him (1:11). However, to those who believed on Him, everything changed. To such people, God made them into new creations. To such people God brought them into His Kingdom family.

Brothers and sisters, as we come to the end of 2020, I want to be His light reflector! I want to be in the number of those God sends into the darkness of this world to reflect the light of Jesus. In case you did not know why, the Apostle John tells us:

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Do you need a light? He is the Light!

Happy Birthday Jesus (Revelation 20-22)

December 25, 2020

23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  Revelation 21:23-24

Oh how I pray that you have worshipped Jesus as first priority on this blessed Christmas morning. This morning I arose to read Revelation 20-23. By the time I arrived at 21:23, my heart was overflowing with adoration of my Jesus. I praise the Lord for His reminders of what this day means to me.

Here is what I wrote in my journal this morning:

Father I rejoice this day in knowing that from Jesus (The Lamp) radiates the light that overcomes the darkness. I give praise to You for sending Jesus to show us the Light (John 1:4-5). I rejoice in knowing the Light revealed the darkness that was my life. I know my eternal portion of existence should be in the Lake of fire. Father every sin mentioned in Revelation 21:8 I have committed. The shear memory of past sins causes me to weep even now. I know if I were called to the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-14), I would be found guilty. I know I deserve the same judgment as those who will stand there before Jesus. But because of the Light of Jesus, I saw my sin and I understood He was my Savior. I praise You Father that Jesus brought me into the light (I John 1:7). Father I praise You for being my Father and I praise You Jesus for being my Savior and becoming my Lord. I praise You Holy Spirit for making me a New Creation. I know Christmas Day reminds me of all that He came to do and did so that I could live my life as a reflector of the Lamb of Light who is the Lamb of God!!!

Here are four prayers to offer to God on Christmas Day:

  1. Lord, I look to You to light the path that pierces even the darkest night.
  2. Lord, I keep me in the Light. Keep me away from sin that would lead me into the shadows.
  3. Lord, please reflect your light through my life.
  4. Lord, may it please you to gather people into the light of the Bride of Christ Your church.

Check us out on Facebook to see our 2020 Journey through Bethlem production:

Jackson First Baptist, Georgia

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!!!

The Next Time (Revelation 18-19)

December 24, 2020

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, Revelation 19:
1

With the recent news of a possible new strand of Covid-19 discovered in the UK, many people are calling for our national leaders to shut down the nation again. The question that fills my heart today is this: What is the answer for the times we are living in?

I know this is not what you want to read about this Christmas Eve. I know you want to hear about the Light coming into the world. I want to share this with you as well. Tonight I will share about the light of the world in our 5 Pm (EST) and 10 Pm (EST) services. But for the moment the pressing question is, what is the answer for the times we are living in?

Let’s be honest with each other. On that first night when the Light came to the earth, the world system made no room for Jesus. Every step along His journey the world system rejected His mercy, His miracles, and His message. The world revealed their true views concerning Jesus when they nailed Him to a cross.

The fall out of the evil of the world system is why we are in the times we are living in. But I have good news. According to Revelation 18, the world system in opposition to God will one day fall. As John sees all of this happening in Revelation 18. a voice from the throne room of Heaven speaks. The voice is a Word from Heaven for our day:

“Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plaques.”

What is the answer for our day:

  1. Do not live your life being dictated by the world.

The world is caught up in self-promotion, self-preservation, and self-plans. The voice from Heaven says, judgment is coming.

2. Center your life in Christ and His Kingdom principles.

In Revelation 19:1 all of Heaven breaks out in praise at the announcement of Jesus Second Coming. The church rejoices at being called too Heaven to meet with Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Look brothers and sisters, Jesus is coming again (19:11-21). Please center your life here today:

  • Jesus will return ridding the white horse of a conquering king.
  • Jesus will return as the Faithful one who has never sinned in any way.
  • Jesus will return as the True one who’s Word has always been correct.
  • Jesus will return to make righteous war and to judge righteously.
  • Jesus will return to claim the earth as His once more.
  • Jesus will return to destroy the world system and all those who rejected Him,

Brothers and sisters, the answer for what is going on in the world is Jesus. His life, His leadership, His way of living is the right way. Oh, if the world would only receive the Light of the World.

3. Pray and life as if this is the very day Jesus will come again.

This morning I lifted up this broken world to Jesus. I prayed that this world would see the Light of Jesus. I prayed that you and I would be faithful light bearers in this world. I prayed that Jesus would come.

Jesus is the answer for what is going on today!!! The next time the world sees Him, He will come with the answer!!!

What Does the future hold? (Revelation 4-5)

December 23, 2020

 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” Revelation 4:1

Tomorrow across the world people will step into the future of today. It will be Christmas Eve. I pray you attend a Christmas Eve service where you are. If you are not attending somewhere, you can watch our Christmas Eve services either at 5 Pm or 10 Pm ESt. Consider with me what we celebrate tomorrow. Our Lord and Savior Jesus came to rescue the world from their sin.

Consider Mary and Joseph as they entered the city of Bethlehem. There must have been two opposing forces at work in them: The forces were faith and fear.

With each step faith was building. With each step they were the first to experience God with them. In previous generations God had worked for people and he had worked through people. The prophets spoke, the priests spoke, and ordinary people spoke as God moved upon them. But never before had God come to reside with them (John 1:14). But now Our Emmanuel was coming. I see faith rising.

At the same time there must have been the opposing force at work in them. They must have wondered, what is about to happen? As they considered the future, it must have caused them to ask God, what does the future hold. It is without doubt that satan (the father of lies, John 8:44) was attempting to turn them back from God’s plan.

But praise be to God that faith saw them through. On that faithful night in history a light came to the world. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of the world. The light sines in the darkness and the darkness doe not overcome it.” John 1:4-5

Many years after this faithful night, the Apostle John was dealing with two opposing forces. The forces of faith and fear, As he walked by faith, he heard a voice. It was the voice of Jesus (Rev. 1:12). John turned to see Jesus in all His glory (Rev. 1:12-16).

In Revelation four Jesus invited John to take a guided tour of the throne room of Heaven. In Revelation five John saw Jesus and then he was given from this point forward a guided tour of what the future holds for the world.

From our studies this morning I find faith rises up in me as I consider what faith accomplishes in our lives:

  1. Faith teaches us to look to Jesus who is the one who redeems us from our sin, Rev. 5:8-9.
  2. Faith teaches us to love our Lord Jesus Christ who is worthy of all praise, Rev. 5:12-13.
  3. Faith teaches us to live with confidence knowing that we have a sure future with Jesus,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Question: Who is winning the battle in your life today? Is it fear or faith? I want you to grasp this truth. Because Jesus resides inside of you in the person of the Holy Spirit, you have the power to walk by faith. Please let faith arise in you today.

Here is an amazing worship song that teaches you this truth:

Let Faith Arise – YouTube

We Are The Church (Revelation 2-3)

December 22, 2020

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. Revelation 3:7

Brothers and sisters, one of the best gifts the Lord ever gave into my life was the church. All of my life has been impacted by the church. My mother began carrying me to church nine months before I was born. My mother took me to church by herself until Dad came to know Christ. Then we went as a family to church. Church was such a part of my life that I even went to church when I was running from the call of God.

Question: Do you love the church?

We know the word church is translated from the Greek word which means an assembly of called out ones. In this definition we are reminded that the church is not a building, the church is people. So, the church I serve is comprised of members who have been called by God to come together to serve.

In Revelation 2-3 we find Jesus sending seven churches a personal letter. This morning as I read through each letter I was impressed to do two things.

  1. I chose a church to study. I focused on one individual church and their life with Jesus.

The church at Philadelphia (3:7-13) was a church that anyone would want to be in. The church:

  • Was led by God. He as the Holy One lead them in all truth. He was the King who had opened the way into Heaven by Himself.
  • Was experiencing open doors of ministry-The church had no power on their own, but with Jesus they were an unstoppable force in their city and beyond.
  • Was facing opposition with God seeing them through-days were difficult and they would get more difficult, but God was seeing them through.
  • Was looking for Jesus to return-He could return at any moment.

Brothers and sisters I was deeply impressed by God of this truth: If I want my church to be this type of church, I must be a part of the solution by surrendered every thought and action to be led by God. I must walk through the doors of ministry God opens and I must obey Him. I must be willing to go through tough stuff and I must have faith.

Brothers and sisters, I am so thankful I am apart of such a family.

2. I chose to spend my prayer time focusing on Jesus description of Himself to each church.

For almost an hour I walked through what Jesus said about Himself in Revelation 2-3. By the time I was finished, I was rejoicing in this fact, the Body of Christ will be victorious because of who He is!!!

Please take time today to talk with the Head of the church and please step into what God opens for your life today!!!

The Time Is Near (Revelation 1)

December 21, 2020

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Revelation 1:3

As Mary and Joseph arrived in the city of Bethlem, it was not what they expected. The small and quite city had been turned into a frenzy of activity as people were pushing and shoving their way into the city and out of the city. Everyone wanted to get their census form filled out and they wanted to get out of town. The overcrowded situation gave a full picture of men’s hearts as a woman in her ninth month would be given no grace on the night of her birth.

Imagine as Joseph realizes, this is going to be a difficult night. Mary turns to Joseph and says, (Luke 1:6 “It is time…) I know we sing the song, “Silent Night.” It was anything but a silent night.

Brothers and sisters, 2000 years later you and I approach Christmas with the prospect of a long and dark winter (as predicted by our incoming president). Does this prospect discourage you?

This week we turn our attention to another moment in time. The book of Revelation points us to this time. It is the time of our Dear Savior’s Second Coming. When Jesus returns to this earth, He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I want to challenge you this week to focus on two things:

  1. I want you and I to focus on all that He did when He came.

In Revelation 1:5-6 we read about who Jesus is in and what He did while on the earth:

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

As I look at John’s description of Jesus life and His work on the earth, I begin to come out of this mindset of this is going to be a dark winter. No, I believe this is going to be a defining moment for the church. I look forward to what He is going to do in this season of miracles.

2. I want you and I to focus on who He is.

Take time to search for who He is in every chapter of the book of Revelation. Far too often people read the book of Revelation for only details of when the end will come. This is important, but far more important is knowing the one who is coming.

Lets do these things together for the glory of God. Here is a link to a song that will bless your soul on this Monday:

Ivan Parker – Midnight Cry (Live) – YouTube

Giving What You have been given (I John 4-5)

December 18, 2020

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another, I John 4:10-11

It just would not be right to do it or would it? I mean, it goes against what we are taught. Even worse it is Christmas. How could we be expected to do it at Christmas? I confess, I was not taught to do this at Christmas. But I am coming to realize, I am called to do it, even at Christmas time.

I know, you are asking, what am I am writing about. Brothers and sisters, did you not read the focal text this morning? Take a peak back at I John 4:10-11. Did you see it? What is it that we are to give away?

We are to give away what has been given to us!!!

If you are a Christ-follower you should know what you have been given. In I John 4:10 the writer informs us that God has extended (given to us) his love. We see the evidence of this in Jesus coming.

In I John 4:16 the writer informs us of God’s intention for His love extended:

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

God, in His love, extended His love to you in a way that leads to your understanding of who He is and what He did for you. When you came to know this you then believed(Romans 10:9-10). Once you believed this, you were called to give away what you have been given:

17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

The Lord intends for you and I to extend to others the love of God. Now here is an amazing fact: You cannot out-give God. The more you extend God’s love to others the more God’s love overflows in your own life. I believe with all my heart, America needs the love of God. I believe with all my heart that the entire globe needs the love of God. I want to challenge you with four weekend tasks that will help you to give away the love of Christ:

  • Ask God to give people into your day so that you can love them.
  • Lean into a deeper understanding of the love of God.
  • Resist the onslaught of hatred the world would inflict you with.
  • Love others as you have been loved.

These tasks accomplished will lead you to freely give what you have freely received.