In 2 Corinthians 9:15 Paul writes, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” His words have a double application. We can thank God for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. That is one application. The other application has to do with an offering being collected by the Christians at Corinth for the Christians in Jerusalem. Paul described this sacrificial gift as an “indescribable gift.”
Since that time, and really even before then, Christians have been sharing in the needs of others in many ways. One of the things that Scotsdale Baptist does is link arms with other Southern Baptist Churches to take an offering known as the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, named in honor of one of our famous missionaries of long ago. Each church will set an offering goal and send it to the International Mission Board. Monies from this special offering will be sent to our missionaries to help them in their work.
Our church goal is $3,000. This offering will be taken through the month of December. If everyone will do their part I believe we can exceed this goal. I hope that our mission will not be to reach the goal; but rather, to help our missionaries reach their part of the world for Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!
Our country’s National Anthem is also known as “The Star Spangled Banner.” Most Americans would easily recognize the tune. If they were given the first line they would more than likely be able to quote the rest of the first verse. What most people probably don’t know is that there are four verses! Each verse concludes with this line – “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
These verses recall the battles and the warriors who have fought to earn us this land, those who have fought to keep us in this land, and those who fight to keep foreign invaders out of this land. To them we owe much gratitude! Last Wednesday (November 11) was the official Veteran’s Day. So please allow me to say, as a representative of Scotsdale Baptist Church, Thank You Veterans. We are so grateful for your service. And thank you veteran families. Our soldiers have served by protecting, and you served in letting them go even as you prayed fervently that God would bring them home.
The last verse in our National Anthem contains this statement – “Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.”
Like many a flag that has flown on our poles through the years, the elements of pestilence, political polarization, a breakdown in true Christianity, and an increase in gross immorality has left this nation tattered and torn. Flags can be replaced—our republic can’t! We are down, but we are not out. We must return to the Lord, lest our soldiers’ valiant efforts have been in vain. I am indeed thankful for this nation, but I am saddened by the downward spiral we have taken.
At the conclusion of many patriotic speeches you will hear the speaker say, “God bless America.” Right now I am more inclined to humbly pray, “God HELP America.”
As we approach the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving, I want to take the time to thank my God for two things:
First, I am thankful that the election is over! But this year I realized, perhaps for the first time, how interested most of the rest of the world is in our elections. The person who serves as the President of our country will be an important factor in the well-being of other nations. Our allies not only look to this nation for guidance, but they depend on us for their security. Our enemy nations will capitalize on any opportunity they may have to take advantage of us and our friends. Paul commands us to “pray for those who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Second, and far apart from the first thing I am thankful for, I am thankful for those who have answered the call to serve as missionaries! Unlike a national leader with international exposure and influence, most missionaries will fly under the radar of fame and fortune. Our God, however—the God of the universe—knows each and every missionary, for He has called them out! Paul expressed it well in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15:
But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
This is a quote in a recent article from the “Family Research Council” newsletter – “We’ve all heard it said: This is the most important election of our lifetime. It’s easy to brush it off as just another political cliché. But the reality is that each successive election becomes the most critical election as our nation becomes increasingly divided not by party, but by worldviews.”
One of the concerns that I have is the number of people who would call themselves Christians, yet have no idea about how their Christian beliefs should guide their worldview. This is exactly why I am going to take some time to address some of our current political issues along with what the Bible has to say about them. I hope this will help you as you make your plans to vote in the upcoming election.
Isn’t it funny how we tend to shorten things? In terms of communication we will shorten our statements through initials and acronyms. Here’s one for you—EPR. Do you know what that is? It is the initials for “Extra Patience Required.” As a church we are about to go into a season that can be stressful.
This is the time of year that we begin to plan, in earnest, for the next year. We are trying to plan for ministries in 2021 with the continuing “unknown” of COVID-related limitations.
Right now our Elders, Personnel Committee, and Finance Committee are working on the budget submitted by several other ministers and ministries. In November this proposed budget will be made available to church members. On November 15th we will have a discussion about the proposed budget, allowing church members to ask questions and make comments about what is being proposed. On the first Sunday in December the church will vote on the budget without discussion.
Planning and budgeting can cause stress! So? EPR—Extra Patience Required! Ephesians 4:1-3 says,
“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
So folks let’s all extend some extra patience toward one another and pray for one another. God bless!
Acts 13:1-3 gives the account of Saul (Paul) and Barnabas’ call to ministry. Verses 2-3 says,
“While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
For the past several years I have had the privilege of watching God move powerfully in Jon, Tianna, Nia, Cora, Atlas, and Mason Bowden. Knowing that God has entrusted them with His calling, the time has come for us to send them on their way. This will be a bittersweet time. This family is loved, and they will be missed. Still, in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s work, we bless them as they move away for Jon to attend seminary. Please join us this Sunday as Jon will be preaching, and we pray over him and his family before they move.
This morning (09/17) I attended a conference online. One of the issues that so many church leaders are facing is how to continue ministry during a pandemic that has no foreseeable end in sight. We want to think we will eventually get over this, but when? In the meantime, how do we continue to minister effectively? One of the conference speakers made an important comment. He said, “The limit of our ministry will depend on the level of our creativity.”
We could cry and moan and complain about how bad things are or how much we wish things were like they used to be. But that is not what overcomers do! Overcomers find ways to overcome, and that is what we must do as Christ’s followers, and as members of His church! So here is my word of encouragement to you which comes straight from the WORD—1 Peter 4:10-11,
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
Pray! Ask God to show you how He has gifted you. Ask Him to show you how He wants to use You to be the solution! I would be interested to hear what the Lord shows you. Would you please email me to let me know? If you are interested in finding out how to discover your spiritual gifts we have a tool that can help you. Just request it and we will help you.
On Tuesday, September 11 two jets flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Another jet flew into the Pentagon in Virginia. Yet another jet, United Airlines Flight 93, was intentionally driven into the ground in Pennsylvania by a group of heroic passengers who would rather sacrifice their own lives than to give radical Islamists a victory. Everyone on board died in that jet liner. It was a day in which we saw the worst of mankind and the best of mankind.
On that day nineteen al-Qaeda terrorists killed almost 3,000 people. On that same day hundreds of American heroes sprang into action to treat, fire fight, rescue, pray, and minister. The work of the heroes lasted much longer, with far more positive impact than anything the terrorists could have done. That day has since come to be known as Patriot Day.
Of this event it was stated, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!” But I wonder if we have! Amid all of the violent protesting and political demonizing and pandemic fallout, we have forgotten who the real enemy is and we have turned on each other. Americans are quickly becoming our own worst enemy. There is a saying that goes, “United, we stand; divided, we fall!” Well?
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” – Philippians 2:1-4.
In recognition of this Labor Day, I want to take some time to thank God, and thank those who work to keep this country moving. When COVID-19 came calling, our country came to a standstill—or did it? The country designated some jobs as “essential”. Those who were given such a designation accepted the risks and went to work. Many others found ways to remain productive by finding ways to work from home, accelerating what was already becoming a trend. Some of our major industries reformatted their machines to provide products that the medical field desperately needed. While some products became virtually unnecessary others took off as a necessity.
The country has come back to life because we refused to ever quit living. Even now in the midst of a volatile political campaign that brings out the worst in politicians, and amid the chaos of violent riots, continuing pandemic concerns, and everything associated with these issues, we still get up each morning, get ourselves prepared to meet the day, and go to work!
With all of our challenges, I am so grateful to live in this nation where more people are trying to get in than are trying to get out. My encouragement to us is to continue to work; but as we work, we must continue to pray that God would bless us with a spiritual awakening. He is the only One who can truly save us!
I want to share a great story with you…. A man went to the bank to deposit some cash. The day was windy, and when the man placed the deposit in the drawer a $10 bill separated itself from the rest of the deposit and went quickly flew out of sight. The man making the deposit was a little upset, but quickly thought to himself, “Well, I guess someone else needed that $10 more than I did”. Still, he couldn’t help but watch to see if perhaps the money had somehow gotten caught in a visible, retrievable place. Nothing doing! Again came the thought, “Someone else needed that money more than me.”
The next day the man received a call from someone at the bank where he made his deposit. The bank teller on the other end of the line explained that he was the teller who had waited on him the day before. He said that, after work, he was heading to his car and found the missing $10 bill. He had deposited the ten dollars into the man’s account.
Surprised by the fact that the money had been found, and the fact of who found it, and what the finder did with it, the man instantly shared his appreciation for the integrity of the bank teller. The man who was now ten dollars richer expressed to the teller how much he appreciated what he had done. He said that it really wasn’t about the money, it was about what the teller had done. Ten dollars is ten dollars, but integrity is priceless!
The teller could easily have reasoned that the man didn’t need the money as much as he did, and that no one would know the difference. He could have easily pocketed the money and gone on his way…but he didn’t! He chose integrity over convenience.
By-the-way, this is no parable, this is a true story! I am the man making the deposit, and who lost the money. God bless those who labor honestly, especially this young teller who did the right thing! Matthew 6:4b – “…your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”