God is with us!
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I remember quite vividly the few times I have truly been afraid.
There was this time at church camp when at 10 years old I found myself unknowingly swimming under a large floating dock in the middle of the pond. I had been under too long and my lungs were screaming at me for air. I had absolutely no idea as to my location in relation to the edge of the dock - scary!
Another time at camp the director told all the boys that we were required to preach in chapel to all of the kids in camp. At the time I would have much rather been under that floating dock than have to stand in front of all 200 campers and preach. I survived and ended up being a preacher but that week was horrific as the thought of standing and speaking in front of 200 people weighed on me like a thick dark blanket. I didn’t enjoy much during that week.
Yet as scary as those situations were, the scariest was the time in 2011 when I came face to face with the fact that I should have died shortly after my 34th birthday. Blood clots had passed through my heart and were lodged in my lungs. The doctors had never seen anything like it except in autopsies. They said it was a miracle I survived. That was the first time that the question “What would happen to you if you died tonight?” really made sense. It was the first time I really had no one else to trust in but the Lord. Isaiah 41:10 was a verse I began to cling to more and more that Winter and ever since. It is a key verse I turn to when I am scared, unsure, weak, and disillusioned.
The prophet Isaiah was writing to a people who were on the verge of exile in Babylon. The people of Judah were going to be judged by God for their sin and their refusal to repent and turn to Him from the idolatrous ways they were living. They were scared that God would cast them off forever and that they would be without hope. This verse was God’s way of saying, “Don’t be afraid. I am right in the middle of all of this with you, I am your God, not like the other worthless idols of wood or stone.” “I will strengthen you”, He said. “I will uphold you with righteousness!”
No matter what we go through, young or old, God is with us in the middle of it. Whatever scary, unknown, surprising, and awful situation you are in right now God is there too. If you trust in Him He will strengthen you and help. In Jesus He has rescued you from the worst of fears – death. Trust Him to be with you and guide you and help you. He loves you and wants to make His name great in and through you and in every situation you face.
Sunday, January 10th, 2016 - The final message in the Fullness of Time Series. Matthew 2:13-23
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016!
Where did the time go? It seems just like yesterday my family and I were moving in and beginning our ministry here at North Freedom Baptist. I guess it’s true that “time flies when you’re having fun!” It has been a great six months in North Freedom and we are truly blessed to be ministering to a wonderful church family and in a great community. We look forward to many wonderful times together throughout 2016!
With the New Year many of us tend to reflect on our lives over the last year and plan to make a few changes in this new year. This is a great time to try and break old habits and start or restart some new ones. This time of year is also a great opportunity to continue, or get back into the habit of some key spiritual disciplines. Perseverance is the key to successful change. If we want to see lasting change we must also make a plan with a beginning and end date with several checkpoints in between. I would like to challenge myself and our congregation to starting, to continue, or to build on past spiritual habits. Maybe you have been a bit lax in Bible Reading or Prayer or Church attendance. What can you do this year to begin to make these a way of life for you and your family? If you already practice these habits on a regular basis, how can you strengthen or deepen them? These are a few of several challenges that I would like to present to the church for 2016. Let’s take a look at why these habits are good for us and how we can make them a part of our daily and weekly routines.
First of all, I want to challenge us to be reading and studying our Bibles. John 5:39 (NIV) says “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” Here Jesus is telling us that if we want to get to know Him we must know His Word. Jesus is the ultimate and through the Old and New Testaments we learn who He is and come to love Him and serve Him more. In Romans 15:4 (NIV) we read “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The Bible is given to us that we might learn from it and receive endurance and encouragement and hope. Life is tough and we are not promised “easy” days. We need to know the Lord Jesus and His Word if we are to live in ways that honor Him and show the world that He is worthy of our lives. For these reasons and many more we need to be a church committed to reading The Bible each day. If you need help in this area there are resources available to you at church and a daily reading plan for you in the newsletter, on Facebook, and on our website http://nfreedombaptist.org.
Secondly, I want to challenge us to be a church of prayer. Faith lives in folded hands and for our faith and endurance to be strong we need to be a church of fervent prayer. Paul instructed his churches to be people of prayer. Colossians 4:2 (NIV) “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Romans 12:12 (NIV) “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Prayer was also a significant part of the early church. We read in Acts 2:42 (NIV) “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Let these verses remind us and spur us on to daily personal prayer and to gathering together for prayer each week. There are many prayer resources available to you. Our weekly prayer sheets, our weekly bulletins, prayer alerts for the persecuted church, and prayer guides for our missionaries. These will all be available on our website by February for you as well.
As we journey together to be a healthier church in 2016 let us encourage one another weekly as we gather together for worship, Bible teaching, and personal growth through Bible reading and person prayer. 2016 can and will be a spectacular year when we commit ourselves to growing closer to the Lord together.
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