Monday, June 26, 2017

10 Friday Questions to Answer in Preparation for Sunday by Chuck Lawless

One reason many weekend worship services are ineffective is that we spend too little time preparing ourselves for worship. Take some time to answer these questions today, and use them to help you get ready to gather with your congregation this weekend:
  1. Am I certain I’m a Christian? If you’re not sure, talk with someone at your church. Worship changes when we truly meet God.
  2. Have I prayed for my worship leaders and my pastor this week? If not, start now.
  3. What have I learned from God’s Word that I didn’t know last Sunday? If the answer is nothing, you might want to spend more time with God in preparation to hear from Him in worship.
  4. Whom have I invited to attend church with me this weekend? You have two more days to answer this question . . . .
  5. Do I usually "put on a show" at church? Only you can answer that question – but all of us must answer it if we want to worship God fully. 
  6. Do I have unconfessed sin in my life that will hinder my church’s worship? If so, confess it and ask God’s forgiveness.
  7. Am I harboring bitterness and unforgiveness toward someone? If so, your own walk with God is being hampered. Ask God to free you from bitterness so you can worship Him fully.
  8. Do I expect everything to be the same this weekend, or do I expect God to do something surprising and mighty? If you expect the routine, that’s likely to be what you will get.
  9. For the past week, have I modeled faith before my family? You should want to gather with your church as a man or woman whose family knows you are genuine.
  10. What was last week’s sermon about? If you don’t remember that sermon, plan on taking notes this weekend, and then review them throughout the week.
May God prepare our hearts for great worship events this weekend! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, June 23, 2017

I'm so excited about preaching this Sunday - not once but twice.

I'm delighted this Sunday is a day of getting to preach twice.  We do have a Sunday night service this week and I am preaching.  Excited about what the Lord is giving me for both services.

We are finishing Luke 8 this Sunday with these two messages.  Sunday morning "Jesus Can Change Any Life" from Luke 8: 26-39 when Jesus heals a man with many demons.  What a beautiful picture of how "Jesus Can Change Any Life."

Then Sunday night we will examine the lady who had an issue of blood for 12 years who reaches out in faith in Jesus being the Messiah and it is "The Touch That Stopped Jesus" and brought wholeness immediately to her.

These two stories highly exalt our Lord and it will be our honor this Sunday to swing "the two-edged sword" to show forth our Lord who is the only one who can changes lives immediately and forever.

Can't wait.  Join us at 10:15 and 6:00 for worship and 9:00 for fellowship and Bible study in Sunday School.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I am looking forward to our gathering tonight at 6:10 as I will continue to share about "Loving Your Enemies" from Luke 6:27-38  Ouch. Tonight we are talk more about retaliation and how we are leave that to God - we are to love. This will raise some interesting questions about our Biblical responses to our enemies.  I look forward to our time together.

Tonight is also our monthly business meeting at the very beginning of the service.  It is our joy to present tonight a new team to continue the ministry of Kendle's Friends.

We continue to pray for the 12 members of the Nicaragua Mission Team.  They return on Sunday afternoon.

Our Mobile Mission Trip is just around-the-corner.  This is our last year in Mobile and are so delighted to be welcoming the Mountain View Baptist Church as our companions this year.  We have a great team leaving July 1 and returning July 8.  It's not too late to go. If you are interested, let Keith Beatty or Greg Wigley know.  We'll make room for you!!

This Saturday is our monthly Sunrise Breakfast for the Men at Kelly's Kitchen at 7:00 a.m.  Don Meyer will be speaking.

Also, it is Freedom Fest in Rainsville.  First Baptist sponsors the Car Show beginning at 3:00. Thanks to Jonathan Harris for his leadership in putting this together and raising funds for our mission endeavors.

The monthly GRACE Women's Fellowship is Monday, June 26 at the home of Mary Ann Evans at 6:00 p.m.

Upward Football and Cheerleading Evaluations begins next week on Thursday, June 29 from 5:30 - 7:00.  If you can help, email Drew Hogsed.  We need coaches, cheerleading coaches, referees, scoreboard operators, down marker holder, field liners, concession stand helpers, and just anywhere you can help.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sharing the Gospel at Work by David McLemore

The Dutch theologian, Abraham Kuyper, famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” That means everything we do is under the watchful eye of God and we have a choice moment by moment to submit to him or rebel against him. The great news of the gospel is that Jesus has looked down upon us and cried, “Mine!” He has saved us and relocated us from the kingdom of darkness into his kingdom of light. Our lives matter now and forever.
Every area of our life matters, including our work. There is not a square inch in the whole domain of your work over which Christ does not cry “Mine!” What are the implications? Specifically, what are the implications in regard to how you speak the word of God in the workplace?
Apart from our family and church, the primary mission God has called mankind to do is work, and since Jesus owns everything, your work is his and he has placed you there for his glory. My aim is to convince us that we can effectively speak the word of God into the workplace through three guiding principles: prayer, productivity, and platform. We must be people of deep and pervasive prayer, we must be people committed to productivity, and we must do both things to build a platform from which to speak. Let’s look at each one, and then we will consider one more belief to close.
The Christian life is dependent upon God for power. Jesus told us as much in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.” Do we believe that? If we do, our life of prayer will reflect it. If we don’t, we have an opportunity to see the power of God in our life in new ways.
The Bible gives us many examples of prayerful people. Let’s consider just one: Nehemiah. Nehemiah was among the exiles of Israel. He served as the cupbearer to the King of Persia, Artaxerxes. Some men from Judah brought news to him of the walls of Jerusalem. They had fallen, and the gates were destroyed by fire. They were left unrepaired. The city was in disarray. Nehemiah, a Jewish exile, was distraught. He sat down and wept. The first chapter of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah tells us of his period of mourning and prayer. He pleaded with God to forgive the sins of his people and to grant mercy. Then he went back to work for the King.
Nehemiah tells us in chapter 2 “Now I had not been sad in his presence.” The King noticed his sadness and asked, “Why is your face sad, seeing that you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Nehemiah was unsure, but he spoke up. “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The King knew he was going somewhere with this, but where? He asks, “What are you requesting?” The moment has arrived. What will Nehemiah say?
Nehemiah 2:4 has one phrase that makes all the difference. “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” Here is Nehemiah, before the King. He is on the precipice of asking for his release to go and do the work the Lord is calling him to. He needs courage. What does he do in that brief moment? He prays.
Now, you and I will not ask our bosses for release to repair broken down walls in Jerusalem, but there is a principle here to grasp. We will all face moments among coworkers or bosses that will force us into corners. At some point, our allegiance to Christ must be made known. That should come from the words you say and the actions you take or don’t take. Whatever the case, a moment will come where you can say or not say something vital for the Lord. At that moment, follow Nehemiah. Pray. Do not depend on yourself. You can’t be trusted. Depend on the Lord. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.
In Ephesians 5:15-17, the apostle Paul tells us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
The author of Proverbs tells us in 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.”
We are called to do our work well. Productivity is not simply a good way to keep your job; it is a good way to love others. John Piper says, “Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love.” The more productive we are in the workplace, the more legitimacy we build and the more good we can do for the most amount of people. People depend on us. The better we do our work, the better others can do their work, and the more freedom we will have for unobstructed conversation. Furthermore, the better work we do, the more we image our Creator. Being productive in the work your boss asks you to do is a good work that ultimately points back to the one whom you truly work for, God.
As hard as it may be, and as bad as it may feel Monday through Friday, work is not a result of the fall. Genesis 2 is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Mankind is born. Then, in Genesis 2:15, the Bible says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” There we have it. God gave Adam work to do. The next verse gave him boundaries to obey and a chapter later Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil where sin was birthed into the world. But before sin, there was work. And God said that it was good.
Matt Perman is an expert on this subject. He says, “A radical concern for others is to be at the heart of our productivity and at the heart of everything we do every day. Hence, being productive is not just about getting things done. It’s about being a useful person, making a contribution, and leaving things better than you found them. It’s about always being on the lookout to do good for others and knowing how. Christians are to be known by their love—not just love in the abstract but in their everyday lives. And this is substantially shown through a concern for being of benefit to others in all that we do (not just some things that we do)…A life of serving is a life of joy and adventure and excitement—far more exciting, in fact, than a life lived for yourself, no matter how many times you get to travel the world.”
In the words of John Wesley, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” When we do this, we create the necessary space and equity needed to take the gospel to a hard area like the workplace. The better employees and bosses we are, the most open others will be.
Our private life before God, and our public life before others are important, but the two can never be connected until we open our mouths. We seek to become prayerful, productive people because in doing so, we create a platform from which to speak the word of God in our workplace.
The Bible says God determines the times and places in which we live (Acts 17:26). You are not at your workplace by accident but by divine providence. You are lovingly placed there by God, for his glory, for the good of others. Day after day, as we seek the Lord in prayer for those we work with and work hard unto the Lord he will provide opportunities to share the gospel.
We are human beings made for relationships. Therefore, we should befriend those we work with. We should also see that no relationship is more important than a relationship with God. Due to sin, human beings stand guilty before God. That should trouble us.
Francis Schaeffer said, “As Christians, we should be deeply concerned that the unsaved world is under the wrath of a holy God. We should not be able to think about this without some emotional reaction. Let’s get this in our heads: People are lost. If we think of the unsaved world being under the wrath of God merely as an intellectual concept, remaining unstirred emotionally, we have already entered the door of dead orthodoxy. These people are my fellow humans, and they are under the wrath of God.”
When we see others as lost and guilty before God, we will speak up when God provides a platform. When we see others as mostly good people who are doing just fine in life, we will keep silent when God provides a platform. We need eternal lenses through which to see the world.
But we must also realize that we are not the savior of the world. God may have placed us in our workplace to share his good news, but he has not placed us there to become anyone’s savior. Jesus is all the savior the world will ever need. Our job is simply to speak of him. We are dying people who speak to a dying world. We have what everyone needs. Will we speak up or not?
In her novel, News of the World, Paulette Jiles’s Captain Kidd is an old army captain who travels the post-Civil War U.S. reading the hard to get news to others. At one point the captain says, “Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.”
Some things in life are hard to figure out. Some things are a journey where we never really arrive at the destination. But the gospel is not one of those things. We are carriers of news, and we have only one message – the love of Christ for the undeserving. We can be certain of what it says. It would be a shame to get through life, all the way, and at the end hand it over, sealed. The gospel is a message that must be opened and shared because it holds life. What God gave to us should go through us to others.
In Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The gospel is the power of God for salvation. Let’s be sure to get this straight. We are not the power of God for salvation. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The gospel does something even as it says something. News can alter the course of our personal history. For those of us who have been saved by God, we never lose the wonder of our salvation. It altered everything. How can we keep that message from others?
Now, there is one more thing we should consider. If the discussion above felt more like a condemnation than freedom, you’re probably not alone. Though I would suggest the principles of prayer, productivity, and platform as proper goals to shoot for – as a path to obedience – I also realize that for many people a deep sense and reality of failure abides. The question is if we fail at work – from failure on a project to failure in firing – how do we still speak the word of God in the workplace? In other words, how can Jesus use our failures for his glory?
The message of the gospel begins with failure. Out of death, God brings life. It is probable that your greatest ministry will arise from your greatest failure. So, if you’ve failed in the workplace, there is hope for you yet. God can use you. All you must do is open your heart to him and be available. Here’s what you can say to him now. “Lord, I know my failures. You know my failures. In fact, you know all my failures that you have in kindness hidden from me. But my failures do not keep me from you because of the grace of Jesus Christ. I place all my trust in him for my salvation and ask that you would use me to spread the gospel among my colleagues. I feel so weak and inadequate, but your Word shows me that you are happy to use such people. I’m open to you now, Lord. Keep me open all the time and lead me into whatever path you would have. For your glory alone.”
We know that God uses our weakness to prove his power (2 Corinthians 12). Let’s never be afraid to run to Christ for help. Let’s never be afraid to open our mouths because your father is the King of the universe. What do you need that he doesn’t have?
Editor's note: this originally published at

Friday, June 16, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Friday, June 16, 2017

This Sunday is Father's Day and it will be our joy to recognize ALL the men (over 18 years of age) and to pray over them.

Due to it being Father's Day, we will not have Sunday night services.  Enjoy the extended time with your family and friends.

Two years ago this weekend I was here at Rainsville First Baptist in view-of-a-call as your Pastor.  I preached that Sunday on "The One Thing" from Luke 10: 38-42.  Last year I did the same because I believe this may be "the one thing" I need more than anything else in my life and this may be "the one thing" we, as a church, needs.  The message was born from what God was doing in my life at the time.

This Sunday I am returning to this passage again, but it will be a different message - but same emphasis.  I am preaching this Sunday "One Thing Better."

In the message I will refer to some resources that will be helpful to you in your walk with the Lord. Let me give you the links to those references now.

Bible Reading plans - here

The Bible Reading plan I am currently using - here 

A good resource for Journaling - here 

A good resource on Scripture memorization - here 

A good resource on long passages of Scriptures to memorize - here

Fighter Verses - here 

Prayer helps - here

Replicate Ministries

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

From the Shepherd's Heart...Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Vacation Bible School is in full swing this week with record attendance of children - at least in the last few years.  We are grateful to the Lord for His trust in us to bring these children to us.  Also grateful for Whitney Traylor's excellent leadership and all our adults and youth who are giving so much.

FAMILY NIGHT is tomorrow night at 5:30 in the Auditorium.  The Hope Puppets will be making their first appearance of the year as they share some of their mission trip show.  It will be a fun way to end the week.  Plan on being present, even if you have not been here all week.

Let me inform you we are closing the office this Friday.  This is very unusual for us but due to several issues and finishing up VBS, I have decided to close the office.  If you need anything in the bulletin or from the office, do it by Thursday.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eleven Killer Questions To Ask Of A Bible Passage by Colin Adams

Questions are to bible study what the spade is to the archaeologist. They help us dig up hidden treasures. As we plant the shovel and find the gems, we should share the questions that aided discovery. These eleven questions have proved unusually fruitful in my study of Scripture.
1.Where does this book appear in the Bible’s plotline?
This is the first question I use to orientate myself. As I parachute down into Bible terrain I try to look around and get my bearings. The initial question needs to be: where am I?  Do I find myself in the Old or New Testament? More specifically: where exactly am I in either of those Testaments?
It will greatly aid our study to have an increasing grasp of the Bible’s plotline. For the newbie, I would highly recommend God’s Big Picture (Vaughan Roberts) or the two volumes by Mark Dever (Promises Made; Promises Kept). For a more advanced take on the plotline, check out Graham Goldsworthy.
2. Who was this book written to?
It is certainly important to ask: who wrote this book? Knowing the author can sometimes be decisive. The psalms of David, for instance, should be read in a certain way. These are not just songs and cries of any old believer; they are the songs and cries of a King who foreshadows the Messiah.
But the author isn’t always so important.  Some Bible books are formally anonymous, after all.
What often carries greater weight is the identity of the recipient.  So, it helps to understand that the original audience of..
  • the Pentateuch was the young Jewish nation, round about the time of entering Canaan…
  • …that the original audience of the Psalms were Jews, who sang these songs in a prophetic context…
  • …that Luke’s gospel was written to a man who needed greater certainty about the Christian faith….
  • …that Revelation is being written to persecuted Christians in the first century…
If we forget the original audience, our interpretation will go skew-whiff.
3. What is the book’s overall message?
We often forget to ask this vital question. Getting lost in our passage, we tend to lose sight of the overall thrust.
To uncover the overall message, we need to prayerfully read the entirety. We look for structures, developing themes and telling-statements. These in turn will lead us to the book’s big theme.
To give an example of why this matters, take 1st John. The overarching thrust is that John’s readers can have assurance of being genuine Christians. John’s recipients were living in the aftermath of certain people leaving their church. These leavers claimed to have superior spiritual knowledge, and those who stayed behind were left to question their own salvation. John assures his readers that they HAVE true fellowship with God. 1st John then, isn’t so much a challenge to John’s readers, as a comfort to them. Seeing this bigger point,  will stop us from misapplying the letter in its details. We mustn’t preach these passages as though they are frightening tests of assurance!
4. What is the wider context of each passage/verse?
The “promise box” approach to Bible study is still alive and well. People lift a Bible verse out of context and in splendid isolation ask, what does this mean? This can only lead us making up meaning!
Handling the Bible responsibly means examining each verse in the flow of the passage. So Paul’s claim that he can do everything through Christ’s strength  (Phil 4: 13) is to be understood in the flow of what he’s said before (he’s been talking about contentment in circumstances of poverty). Paul isn’t saying that in Christ he can jump over tall buildings! He’s saying he can survive through times of want.
5. What is the passage structure?
Every Bible passage has some kind of structure. We discern the structure in different ways depending on the genre:
  • If it’s a narrative…what are the turns in the plot? Where is the point of crisis? What is the great resolution?
  • If it’s an epistle: What are the steps in the argument? What is the progression of logic from a to b to c?
  • If it’s a psalm: what are the stanzas/verses? Is there a chorus line that’s repeated?  Is there a chiasm? (where the main point lies in the middle, and parallel points lie to either side)
6. What is the surprise in the passage?
Dale Ralph Davis put me on to this one.  The Bible is full of the unexpected, so we should be on the look out for it.
This is especially important when studying familiar passages. It was a surprise to me recently to notice that Elijah, in the contest at Carmel, set up what was essentially a ‘burnt offering’  (see Leviticus 1). I then started to notice other ways in which Elijah was calling Israel back to the law and old patterns of faithful worship.
7.  What is the main message of the passage? (hint: this is usually a truth about God)
Even short passages can be packed with many truths. Take Mark 4:35-41. You’ve got the disciples obeying Jesus command; you’ve got Jesus sleeping on the boat; there’s the calming of the storm, and then the disciples being confronted for their unbelief.
But what is the main point of the story? To work this out we need to grapple with
  • the overall message of Mark’s gospel (Jesus is God’s suffering servant),
  • the context of the chapter (the early part of Mark emphasises Jesus’ identity),
  • the content of chapter 4 (which has a focus on God’s word)
  • and the details of the story (Jesus controls nature with his word, and the disciples are left asking ‘who is this’?).
  • Putting all these things together, we could say that the storm stilling story reveals the God-man whose word controls creation.
8. What was the application to the original readers?
Don’t immediately ask what a Psalm means to you. Ask what it would have meant to the Jew who first sung it? The songs of ascent (Psalms 120-134) meant something to the Jews. They sang Psalm 121 with a literal foreboding of being surrounded by enemies on every side. That original experience is not meant to be glossed over.
It is equally crucial to ask this of the New Testament. What would Revelation 12 have meant to 1st century persecuted Christians? A lot of zany interpretation about Revelation would be cured instantly if we recognised that many suggested interpretations would have made no sense to the original readers!
9. How does the passage relate to Christ and then the church?
A key question to ask if we’re in the Old Testament. If I’m preaching on the temple-vision in Ezekiel (Ez 40-48) I need to think through how this is fulfilled in Christ (John 2:19) and then in the church (1 Cor 3:16). When viewed through the eyes of the NT, Ezekiel is not promising a literal, earthly temple. He is previewing a grander temple: Jesus Christ, and the church that is God’s dwelling place.
10. What is the general application to a contemporary Christian?
Before we can extrapolate the nuances of application, we need to get clear the application generally. When preaching on Leviticus 23 last Sunday I said that the application of these festivals was to rest and rejoice in Christ’s work.  Of course, how that resting and rejoicing will play out will look different for a teenager than it does for a married man or an older person. But before we can delineate those application lines, we have to know the main thrust.
11. How does the passage reform me, my church and my world?
It might be helpful to think of three concentric circles: me, my church, and my world. Of course if we are preaching we might want to expand these categories much further. But for personal bible study these will probably be enough. The latter two questions, especially, will help to push us beyond our usual individualism.