“Give Thanks In All Circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The Bible uses the word “Thanksgiving” as early as Leviticus 7:12, and is used approximately 35 times throughout Scripture. Were you to include every variation of “thank,” it would be approximately 170! Reading the New Testament, you will discover that it is used most often in Paul’s letters. Paul follows Israel’s tradition of returning thanksgiving and praise to God for all of His blessings in their lives (ex. Psalm 34:1; Ezra 3:11).

In Paul’s letters, thanksgiving is often returned for the things the Lord has done in the past such as our salvation (Colossians 1:12 – 14). In other places, his prayers reflect thanksgiving and a call for believers to reflect the same attitude (Colossians 4:2).

In Paul’s closing to the church in Thessalonica, he reminds them to rejoice, to pray, and to give thanks in all circumstances. In other words, they are to be thankful in both the good and bad situations that come their way. There is no event or circumstance too bad for a Christian because the Lord is always superintending for them (Romans 8:28). God’s will for those in Christ Jesus is a heart that overflows with thanksgiving.

To forget to return thanksgiving is to forget the Lord’s blessings. My prayer for you is that you will take the time to pray and to give thanksgiving to the Lord during Thanksgiving this year. No matter if times are good or bad, those in Christ have many reasons to return thanksgiving.

This Sunday, 11/19/17, we will be coming together to simply return thanks to the Lord. Come and join us! Everyone is welcome.

Blessings,

Pastor Steven



The First Days of Jesus

The First Days of Jesus

It is now November, and before too long it will be Christmas time. Several people have asked me for recommendations on devotional readings for Christmas. I thought I would put this into a blog post should anyone be interested. The below are suggestions that you might find helpful in keeping your focus on the birth of our Savior during the hectic season ahead.

Matthew 1:1- 2:23

Luke 1:26-2:21

John 1:1-18

Galatians 4:4-5

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:1

Micah 5:2

As for a specific book/devotional, I cannot recommend “The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation” highly enough. I had one of the authors as a Professor in seminary, and he was excellent in teaching on the life of Christ. What I love about the book is that it is biblical, Christ-centered, but not watered down. You will learn, grow, and rejoice in the birth of Christ as you read it. It also has a great Christmas reading plan.

Be sure to check it out =

https://www.amazon.com/First-Days-Jesus-Story-Incarnation/dp/1433542781

I pray that these suggestions will help you retain focus on Jesus during Christmas.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (ESV)

Pastor Steven



The Lord’s Supper – Hallel Psalms

The Lord’s Supper – Hallel Psalms

This weekend we will be observing the Lord’s Supper during the morning service.  When we observe the Lord’s Supper we are looking back at the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and looking forward to His return (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

One thing we want to avoid is to approach the Lord’s Supper without having taken time to reflect on the Lord’s sacrifice.  Jesus shed his blood on the cross to bring about our redemption and provide for us eternal life.  Below are a few scriptures that you can use to read and reflect on as we approach Sunday.

Isaiah 52:13-53

Luke 22:7-23

1 Corinthians 5:7-8, 11:17-34

One additional suggestion is to read and to reflect on the Hallel Psalms.  The Hallel Psalms are Psalms 113-118.  The Hebrew word “hallel” means praise and is the word that we get the familiar “Hallelujah” from.  These six psalms were either read or sung when the Jews celebrated the Passover.  They would use Psalms 113-14 before they ate the Passover meal and then 115-118 after the meal.

It is interesting to note that when Jesus and the disciples finished the Passover meal, that they all “sung a hymn” (Matt.26:30; Mark 14:26).  Most scholars suggest that it is very likely that Jesus, being a very devout Jew, used the Hallel Psalms at this time.  Reading Psalm 118 in particular is interesting to read in light of Jesus betrayal and crucifixion that would occur hours later.  Psalm 118:22 is also quoted later in Matt. 21:42 and Acts 4:11.

May the Lord bless you as you take time to read and reflect this week on our Lord’s sacrifice.

Blessings,

Pastor Steven 



True Peace

True Peace (Selected Scriptures)

This past weekend, we began our new sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  In the greeting, Paul invokes both grace and peace on the church at Philippi.  Grace is the undeserved favor of God that He extends to sinners through Christ.  The result of God’s grace is peace.  Paul has the Hebrew word for peace in mind, shalom, which refers to wholeness and overall well-being.

Usually, when we think of peace, we have something different in mind than what the Bible means by this.  For example, a person typically determines whether or not they have peace based on their present circumstances.  If everything is going well, then they would say they are at peace.  If things are not going well, then they would say that they have no peace.  The Bible, though, refers to an altogether different peace.  This peace is always present and not based on external circumstances.

First, the Apostle Paul recognizes that the ultimate source of true peace comes from God.  This is something seen in the Old Testament (ex. Numbers 6:26).  Second, Paul recognizes that in order for a person to have true peace, they must be reconciled to God.  Theologians refer to this as justification.  The word “justification” simply means “to justify” or “to declare righteous.”  The Lord declares you righteous when you place your faith in Jesus Christ for your sins (Romans 5:1).  When you trust in Christ as your Savior, God declares you righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Paul understands that when we have been justified we now have peace “with” God (Romans 5:1).  Our position before God is now one of peace.

Finally, after we have peace “with” God we then experience the peace “of” God (Romans 15:33; 16:20; Philippians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 13:11).  It is the peace of God that Paul later exhorts the Philippians to experience as they lift all their prayers to Him.  When they do, they will have the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

My prayer is that you have the true peace that only God provides to us through Christ Jesus.  If you do not have true peace, the Bible teaches that by faith in Jesus Christ we are declared righteous before God (Romans 3:21-26; 5:18-19).

The God of peace be with you all.

Pastor Steven      



The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

The Seven “Beatitudes” Of Revelation

This Sunday evening we will return to our series in the book of Revelation.  We will be looking at the second of the seven churches in Revelation.  The second church is Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) and deals with the persecution of the church.

When we began the series I mentioned that Revelation uses “seven” many times.  For example, there are seven churches just as there are seven seals, bowls, etc.  One that can be overlooked is the seven “Beatitudes” in Revelation.  The first “beatitude” is in Revelation 1:3 and promises a blessing to those who read, hear, and keep what is written in the book.

Several of you have asked for a list of the seven “Beatitudes”.  Below is a list of them for you to reflect on.  May the Lord continue to bless you as we seek to not only read and hear His Word but to keep what is written in it.

Revelation 1:3 – Who read, hear, and keep what is written in the book.

Revelation 14:13 – Who die in Jesus.

Revelation 16:15 – Who watch and wait for Jesus.

Revelation 19:9 – Who are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Revelation 20:6 – Who are in the first resurrection.

Revelation 22:7 – Who keep the words of this book.

Revelation 22:14 – Who have had their sins forgiven.

Look forward to seeing you all on Sunday.

The grace of the Lord be with you all until then.

Pastor Steven



185 Years – Celebrating God’s Faithfulness

This Sunday New Hope Baptist Church will be celebrating 185 years of serving Christ.  I was recently given a document that provides a brief history of New Hope.  One area that I continually thought of while reading the document was God’s faithfulness. 

This Sunday we will take time to pause and remember how faithful the Lord is to His people.  As we take time to celebrate this weekend, below are just a handful of verses that remind us of the Lord’s faithfulness.  Take a few minutes to reflect on these as we approach Sunday. 

Everyone is welcome to come join us this Sunday as we celebrate and gives thanks to the Lord for His faithfulness over the past 185 years.  I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday.

Blessings,

Pastor Steven

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Psalms 36:5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O LORD,  with your faithfulness all around you?

Psalms 119:90 Your  faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it  stands fast.

Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the  fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and  he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But  the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against  the evil one.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.



“More Joy In Christ”

In our modern culture, we are constantly bombarded with a wide variety of claims that we can find more joy in the things the world offers than in the Lord Jesus Christ.  All we have to do is turn on the TV, go on the internet, or visit the store, and we are told that the world’s pleasures will satisfy us.  Unfortunately, when we begin to believe this, it causes our hearts to drift away from the Lord.

In Psalm 4, David deals with a group of discontent people who are following him.  However, in the face of discontent, he expressed that true joy was found in the Lord alone.  The people were unsatisfied with David and asked him who could show them some good things.  David’s response was a prayer for the Lord to show favor to them, similar to Numbers 6:24 – 26.  He pointed the people to the Lord as the one who would show them “good things”. 

The joy and contentment the people found in the Lord would be greater than all the food the world had to offer.  This is similar to what Job says regarding how much he treasured the Lord’s words (Job 23:12).  Additionally, David could sleep, as the Lord “alone” was his peace.  True joy, peace, and contentment are only found in the Lord and not our circumstances, which can be fleeting.

While the world may try to lure us away with endless pleasures and materialism, there is undoubtedly more joy in Christ than all the world has to offer (Psalm 16:11).  May you take time in our hectic world to find the daily joy of Christ.

Blessings,

Pastor Steven
 


Revelation Sermon Outline

Revelation Series – Basic Outline

Several of you have asked for a copy of the Revelation outline that was used in the Sunday PM service.  The outline is below:

Please note that there are obviously various ways to outline the book, but this should help you gain a basic understanding of the structure of the book.

This Sunday (09/24) we will be looking at the “Vision of the Glorified Christ” in 1:9-20.  Afterwards, we will begin looking at the Seven Churches in Chapters 2 – 3.  I will preach one church per week so that we cover all seven.

May you be blessed just as the book promises during our time in it (Rev. 1:3). 

Pastor Steven
 
 

Revelation – Basic Outline

Prologue (1:1-3)

Opening Greeting To The Seven Churches (1:4-8)

Vision Of The Glorified Christ (1:9-20)

Letters To The Seven Churches (2-3)

Vision Of The Throne Room And Lamb (4-5)

The Judgments (Seals, Trumpets, Bowls, Babylon) (6-18)

The Final Victory Of The Lamb (19-22:5)

The Epilogue (22:6-21)



Daily Walking With Christ

Daily Walking With Christ
 

In recent sermons, I have mentioned the need for Christian’s to daily reflect on Jesus Christ.  This is something that will enable you to grow in Christlikeness.  It is hard to follow someone you do not know.  For several years, my practice has been to read the gospels constantly.  I always try to be reading one of the gospels.  This allows me to reflect on Jesus, who he is, how he responded to situations, etc.

Several people have asked me for suggestions on doing this.  Below is a list of ways and resources that may assist you in your walk with Jesus Christ.  The list is not exhaustive but has been a good source for me over the years.

Suggestions:

  1. Simply pick one of the four gospels and read it from beginning to end.  Nothing fancy, but the simplest and best approach.  If you are new to reading them, try Mark or John first.  If you read a little each day, you will be surprised how quickly you will finish them.  However, do not just read them, take time to pray and ponder what you are reading.
  2. One of the best resources for studying the gospels is to have a Harmony of the Gospels.  These are helpful on many fronts allowing you to study in detail the life of Christ. 
    1. The best is an older one by Robert L. Thomas – https://www.christianbook.com/nasb-harmony-of-the-gospels/robert-thomas/9780060635244/pd/063524X?event=ESRCQ
    2. HCSB Harmony of the Gospels.  This is a really good one, although it is hard to find in hard copy.  eBook is also available – https://www.christianbook.com/hcsb-harmony-of-the-gospels-ebook/steven-cox/9781433669842/pd/15353EB?event=ESRCG
    3. Holman Christian Standard Bible A Simplified Harmony of Gospels – This version makes for a great read streamlining all the text in a good readable flow.  eBook version is available to – https://www.christianbook.com/holman-christian-standard-simplified-harmony-gospels/9780805494235/pd/94235?event=ESRCQ
  3. While I do not recommend this in place of Scripture, the next few are supplemental suggestions.  These are good devotions on the life of Jesus.  https://www.amazon.com/Daily-Readings-Christ-Grace-Today/dp/0802456006
  4. If you drive a lot or like to listen to audiobooks, I have enjoyed this one a lot.  The Story of Jesus – https://www.amazon.com/Story-Jesus-NIV-Experience-Seamless/dp/B005J31840
  5. Finally, a great in depth study of Jesus and the Gospels.  Great resource – http://www.lifeway.com/Product/jesus-and-the-gospels-P005018309

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).

My prayer for you is that you will grow in Christ as you daily walk with Christ.

Blessings,

Pastor Steven



But This I Call to Mind

“But This I Call To Mind” (Lamentations 3:21 – 24)

Jeremiah prophesied during a dark time in Israel’s history that led to the Babylonian invasion and destruction of Solomon’s great temple.  The Lord warned the people of coming judgment, but the people refused to heed the warning.  As a result, they were taken away into captivity just as the Lord had promised they would for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11 – 12; 29:10).    

Despite this terrible situation that led the nation into despair, the prophet reminds the exiles where they should look for hope.  Even though the situation was overwhelming, he “recalled to mind” that the Lord’s steadfast love would never cease.  The Hebrew word for “steadfast love” means “a loyal and committed love.”  God would not forget His people even during their time in exile.

Jeremiah’s hope came in remembering that the Lord’s loyal and committed love never comes to an end.  The Lord’s mercy for His people was renewed and refreshed every morning.  This caused the prophet to praise the Lord, leaving him at peace knowing the Lord was faithful.

Whatever difficult situation we may experience, the message of hope in Lamentations is centered on the Lord.  It is the Lord that is faithful to us, and so we can trust Him in every circumstance because His love never ceases.  It is limitless.  Let this be your mindset and then say like the prophet “therefore I will hope in Him.”

Pastor Steven