Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
It has been 20 years since that fateful day that changed our lives so dramatically. We all remember where we were on 9/11. I had just graduated from seminary in Greenwood, Indiana and was on staff at the university as a teacher and athletic director. I remember the college president flagging my car down as I drove across campus to tell me the news.
We set up televisions in the common areas, and student and teacher alike glued themselves to them throughout the day. There was anger about what had happened, and fear that it could happen again. Most had never heard of the al-Qaeda until that day, but we have never forgotten that name since.
I remember the patriotism that followed that event. People gave blood that have never given blood. We all waved flags. Our common cause galvanized us together.
George W. Bush said, “Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
I have been to Ground Zero and prayed for the families of those who have lost their lives. It is a solemn feeling to stand at the very place where everything transpired.
As tragic as 9/11 was, it was something that brought us back to God as a nation. I do not wish for another tragedy, but I do wish that our nation would turn back to the Lord. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…”
Twenty years have passed very rapidly. James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Are you prepared for eternity? Acts 2:21 says, “…whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
What is the value of the resurrection of Jesus? To the Christian, nothing could be more priceless. When Jesus rose from the dead, everything changed. All things in the future were different because of this great event.
Because of this, the resurrection of Christ is worth trusting. This preacher trusts the biblical account with all his heart. This is what faith is all about, but it is a faith well founded and grounded in an infallible Word. Trust in what Jesus did. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
The resurrection is also worth teaching. This message is worth sharing with everyone! This could be the last Easter Sunday that we experience. Death could take us, or Jesus could return. What are we doing to reach those around us with this great message? The message of the angels shared at the empty tomb was to go quickly and tell others that He arose. Are we doing this great work?
The resurrection is worth trials. Serving God will often bring trials. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Whatever trials come because of our faith in a risen Savior are worth the pain.
The resurrection is worth taking. Today is the day of salvation. Do not wait and continue to put accepting this free gift. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is a truth you can know today! 1 John 5:13 says, “ These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
4321 is the date today, which is pretty cool, and it reminds me that Jesus is no longer in the tomb-- He is risen and coming back again. Maybe it is today!
Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place
For those who trust him and obey.
Jesus will come again, although we don’t know when
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
Ten and Nine,
Eight and Seven
Six and Five and Four
Call upon the Savior while you may.
Three and Two
He’s coming through
The clouds in bright array
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
This Valentine’s Day will be unusually cold for our part of the country. The weather folks are referring to something called a Polar Vortex. This is an arctic blast with a capital ‘B’!
This writer read a story about young woman who was in college. Her boyfriend took her out to a fancy restaurant and gave her roses. When she returned to her dorm, she picked up the campus paper. The newspaper had a section for student messages, and she wanted to see if he had written a sweet message to her. Near the bottom of the page she found it: “Bonnie, what are you looking here for? Aren’t dinner and flowers enough? Love, Scott.”
There is no reason for our coldness in our love. It will not hurt to show that love in every way possible. In fact, we have every reason to hug those we love a little tighter this year (body heat). A Christian should warm up a room, not cause it to get colder.
Matthew's Gospel speaks about love in the last days and says that the love of many shall wax cold. Unfortunately, we can see this coldness happening all around us.
The need for the warmth of love is one of our most basic and fundamental needs. Love is powerful because it transforms and grows throughout your life. Do not let your love get cold!
Love is more important than money. Love is greater than power and honor. Let us all decide to love the way a Christian believer should.
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus shares this great truth: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
How do you pray for your church? 2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.”
During 2020, it has become increasingly obvious that the church needs prayer. The Devil is probably not a fan of your congregation and minister. Hopefully, the following list will help you pray for your assembly in a clearer way.
Obviously, everything that needs prayer is not on mentioned, but it is a good place to start. Add to this list as you see fit, but fervently pray for your church that God will use it in our generation. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 says, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.”
How do you pray for your pastor? Romans 15:30 says, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Pastor’s need prayer as they maneuver through the intricacies of 2020.Race issues, society problems, family breakdowns, and politics are things that a pastor must face daily. The Pastor is expected to have the right answers. As a pastor this writer hopes this list will help you in praying for your minister.
The technology of 2020 and the ease in shopping online is incredible. Recently Heritage Baptist Church’s office placed an online ink cartridge order on a Wednesday afternoon, and Thursday morning FedEx delivered it. That is truly amazing!
Communicating with phones has never been more versatile and comfortable. The world literally is only a click away. Whether you are an Android or Apple user, the opportunities abound to maximize your schedule and free up more time.
Unfortunately, in society’s haste to invent time-saving devices, we have created products that dominate our time. To quote Dr. Seuss, “How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
Let’s take a timeout and think about this. King Solomon wrote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” If we are not careful, the time we save can be quickly wasted and we can end up with even less time. This is called a vicious cycle and is well named in this case.
“I am too busy” is the number one excuse a pastor receives. Are you too busy for the Lord? Are you spending time with your family? King David wrote, “So teach us to number our days…” Not one person really knows how long they have left in this world. All time should be wisely spent.
James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” The average American spends hours a week online, gaming, and watching tv. Don’t let these things keep you from the things that are most precious. A timeout to evaluate and prioritize could make a big difference.
“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears.” Fear is overwhelming our society. People have reasons to be afraid as violence is common, storms are brewing, and viruses are invasive. Fear has even reached its tentacles into the church and caused such fear that many are no longer regular in their worship. Church doors are even closed temporarily and even permanently.
As a believer, how should we live in a time like this? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” As a Christian, we should not be “shaking in our boots” over what is happening in our world. Psalm 118:6 says, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
When thinking of fear it reminds this writer of 2 Kings chapter 6. The prophet Elisha and his servant are surrounded by the enemy during the night. The servant gets up early and discovers what has happened. He is very afraid and says “Master, what shall we do?”
Elisha is unconcerned. He says, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Elisha had spiritual insight to see things that others did not see. He walked with God and understood His power.
We need the spirit of Elisha today! Is it gone? I sure hope not. Hebrews 13:6 says, “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Our world is desperate to see some real bravery, and who better to display it than the Christian? Someone said this: “Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.”
God’s grace is free. Not much is truly free these days, and many things advertising such have hidden cost attached. Grace is totally free to us, but it does have a cost for Someone. Jesus Christ paid a hefty price of our sin. He laid down His life as payment, making it possible for us to receive the grace of God.
There is only one explanation for such a sacrifice—love. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Years ago, Billy Graham was traveling through a small town in the south, and a police officer pulled him over for excessive speeds. Graham immediately admitted his guilt, but the lawman insisted that he had to appear in court the that day. At the court hearing, the judge asked the famous question, “Guilty, or not guilty?” Graham pleaded guilty, and the judge gave the verdict, “That will be ten dollars—one dollar for every mile you were going over the speed limit.” About this time, the judge recognized the famous preacher. “You have violated the law,” he said. “The fine must be paid, but I am going to pay it for you.” The judge took ten dollars out of his own pocket and paid the fine, and then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner.
That act of grace pictures how God treats us when we are willing to repent. Christ died so that we could go free. He became a willing sacrifice so we could receive His grace. John 3:17 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” Have you accepted this gift of grace?
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
We live in a day of no commitment. People are no longer committed to marriage, church, and the company they work for. Folks make purchases of homes and cars without a sense of moral obligation to make the payments. Athletes sign contracts one day and break the same contract the next. Even the phone and internet companies are offering no commitment plans to cater to a society that prefers that very thing.
In 1519, the Spanish explorer, Cortez, landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico. His purpose in coming was to conquer the area with a small force of 700 men. When all the men and supplies were ashore, Cortez ordered the ships burned. The small army watched from the shore as their only means of retreat burned and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. Forward into the Mexican interior was the only direction left to go. Retreat was no longer an option.
Commitment requires courage. The Bible story of Daniel is a great example. In Daniel 1:8 it tells us, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…” Daniel decided early on that He was going to commit to the cause, and years later he was able to face the lion’s den with courage because of that decision.
The apostle Paul stayed committed to the end, and he wrote in his last recorded book, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” If you want to finish like Paul than you need to commit your life as he did.
Why not make a new commitment to the Lord today? The year 2020 requires courage. Like Cortez, you may need to “burn some bridges” and keep pressing forward.
The Rural Texas Pastor sharing some encouraging thoughts from a small East Texas town.