Faith


All My Life is Portioned Out by Thee

“Father, I know that all my life

Is portioned out by thee,

And the changes that will surely come

I do not fear to see;

 

But I ask Thee for a present mind,

Intent on serving Thee.

I would not have the restless will

That hurries to and fro,

 

Seeking for some great thing to do,

Or secret thing to know;

I would be treated as a child,

And guided where I go.”

 

Thus, brother, “go thou thy way till the end be;”

and “thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”

 

Bruce, A. B.. The Training of The Twelve (p. 379). Public Domain. Kindle Edition.


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Waiting on the Lord

But, I will sing of your strength, and revel at dawn in your mercy; You have been my stronghold, my refuge in the day of distress. (Psalm 59:16)

Jeremiah_Michelangelo_Sistine_Chapel_sm

Jeremiah fresco by Michelangelo (c. 1542–1545) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Lamentations is a book of sorrowful songs or poems. It’s author, Jeremiah, wrote about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He warned of its destruction, watched it take place, and then sadly reflected on it in order to teach God’s people that disobedience to the Lord results in immense suffering and distress.

Jeremiah also wrote that restoration would come.

For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:31-32)

There’s hope in the midst of despair when we wait on the Lord.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:21-32)

It’s important to know that even when we stray the Lord offers compassion and restoration. Better yet, he offers hope even when the source of suffering and condemnation is outside of our control.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:24)

But what did Jeremiah mean by the word “wait”?

Here, the Hebrew word “wait” is translated qavah, defined as “look for,” “hope,” or “expect.” Waiting on the Lord does not mean stopping all activity, quieting ourselves, and emptying our minds with a blank stare.

We wait for something we expect. We wait in anticipation and expectation.

Wait on the Lord in anticipation and expectation. Expect anything from God that is consistent with his nature. Expect God to do anything that he has revealed as his will, or implied from his character. He is faithful, dependable, and reliable. The Lord does what he says he will do.


Miracles and the New World Order

Then said Jesus to him, “Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)

David Hume lived in the 18th century. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy. He believed that miracles were singular events that differed from the established laws of nature. Therefore, miracles violated all prior experience and were not possible based on reasonable belief. This position reflects the view of many skeptics today.

Mr. Hume’s position presupposes that the actions of Jesus must fit into the rational world of science. “But suppose, just suppose,” says Professor N.T. Wright, that miracles offer a glimpse of a deeper truth. Suppose the miracles of Jesus signal a new creation, with him fully in charge. What if miracles are his way of sharing with us a glimpse of what happens when God’s kingdom on heaven and earth come together? In doing this, why would Jesus feel confined to the laws of physics?

“Jesus,” says Professor Wright, one of the world’s leading Bible scholars, “seems to be the place where God’s world and ours meet, where God’s time and ours meet.” Jesus is the place where God’s matter — his new creation — intersects with us.

Miracles in the New Testament meant more than “simply” healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and raising the dead. Everything in the gospel narrative, including but not limited to miracles, is extraordinary. Those whose vision is limited to what they see using conventional spectacles risk missing the larger significance of Jesus’ miracles and their meaning in the new world order.


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: The Foundation of Christian Faith

In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will. (John 16:16)

First he is here. Then he is not. We ask, why do the messages seem contradictory? Why can’t faith be simple? What is the foundation of my faith?

Yet, Jesus said…

It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. (Acts 1:7)

a-strong-towerPatience is the key. Writing about the truth of Easter, Marcus Borg, Professor of Religion at Oregon State University, tells us, “The remarkable congruence between the way that he taught and the way his life ended means that he himself becomes the incarnation [the embodiment] of the Way.”

During his time on earth Jesus was faithful. He forged a new path for us — a path leading directly to him. Professor Borg continues, “He died at Passover, when the Passover lambs were sacrificed; and he died in Jerusalem, the location of the temple and sacrifice.”

It was poetry — his crucifixion and death. In time and space, a stark contrast and alternative to existing religious law, freeing the Jews (and later Christians) from physical sacrifice and the officials who impeded a one-on-one loving relationship with the Father.

Then, after death, Jesus was faithful in his return to move his Kingdom forward. Step back and be amazed. Not in our time but in his, the foundation of his love and promise is strong. Our faith and redemption are built on the solid foundation of his love and sacrifice. Indeed, he is a strong and mighty tower.

And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Wave the White Flag

Mark 13 tells the parable of the sower. The farmer scattered some seeds on good soil, some on the path, some on rocky soil, some among the thorns.

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Mark 13:20-23)

Yet, where each seed lands is beyond its control. How might seed on rocky soil experience everlasting joy? How does seed on the path not become trampled? Is there any way that a seed among the thorns might still be fruitful? Are they doomed?

The answer lies not around us, but within us. Contrary to our natural inclination, surrender is the first step to safe passage toward a joyful and fruitful life. Full surrender is an act of love to Christ.

Inside our scared exterior is just someone who wants to be loved. And there’s no greater love than the Lord.

The first step is ours to take. So, wave your white flag.


What Does Peter Teach Us?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus and Peter on and in the stormy seaChristian life is an ongoing battle of the sinful flesh against the new nature given by Christ. We know the enemy.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

To win this battle we must be skilled in using our weapons.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

A closer look at our tools is described here thanks to John O. Reid writing on The Berean website.

Love: Outgoing concern for others. True concern for all of mankind. Not being self-centered. Doing for others what is right, despite their character, appearance, social status, etc. (I Corinthians 13).

Joy: Related to happiness, only happiness requires right circumstances where joy does not. Jesus Christ felt joy though He faced heavy trials (Hebrews 12:2). We should all be joyful having been called by God.

Peace: Peace of mind and peace with God (Philippians 4:6-7).

Longsuffering: Bearing with others who are working out their salvation. Being slow to anger (Romans 15:1; Luke 21:19).

Kindness: Behaving toward others kindly, as God has behaved toward us (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Goodness: Generosity of spirit that springs from imitating Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4-5).

Faithfulness: Being reliable. This describes a person who is trustworthy and will always stand up for God’s way. We can count on, and should work at imitating, the faithfulness of God (Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5).

Gentleness: Considerate and tactful in conduct and correction. Never angry at the wrong time (Matthew 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:26).

Self-Control: Discipline which gives us victory over the wrong pulls of our mind and body (I John 2:15-17).

As with all tools it takes time and experience to use them well. Hammers will hit your thumb. Crayons will draw outside the line. Sewing needles will prick your finger.

Never be discouraged. Pick up and start over. In this, Peter the Apostle may be our best example.

 


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Circumstances and Contentment

You make known to me the path of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence,  with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

Ancius Boethius (born: circa 475–7 AD, died: 526? AD)

Ancius Boethius was living the good life. He was born in sixth-century Rome to an ancient and prominent family, which included emperors and many consuls (the highest elected office of the Roman Republic). He himself served on the royal court as a highly skilled politician until his career ended abruptly when he was convicted of treason, put in prison, and executed.

As he sat in those bleak surroundings, Boethius recognized that our view of changing circumstances is a personal choice. In his book titled The Consolation of Philosophy he wrote, “Nothing is miserable, but what is thought so, and contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content.” (more…)


Passion Week: The Resurrection of Christ

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

The Empty Tomb by George Richardson

This is the last in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 8: Easter Sunday

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event of the Christian faith — the foundation of all Christian doctrine is based on the truth of this event.

Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and Salome go to the tomb and discover that the large stone covering the tomb’s entrance was rolled away.

There’s an earthquake. As the guards shake and become like dead men, an angel proclaims…

“Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.” (Matthew 28:5-6)

Learning of the event, John and Peter run to the tomb. Peter enters and sees the linen cloth and a neatly folded handkerchief. Among Jews of the time a master let his servants know whether he was finished eating or coming back to the table by the way he left his cloth napkin. If he tossed it aside, he was finished. If he folded it, he would return.

The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. (John 20:7)

On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ makes at least five appearances. The first person to see him is Mary Magdalene.

she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:11-18)

Jesus then appears to Peter, then to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all of the disciples, except Thomas, while they gathered in a house for prayer.

After that he was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles. (1 Corinthians 15:5-7)

These eyewitness accounts in the Gospels offer undeniable evidence that, in deed, the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened. However, the resurrection of Jesus is not our ticket to “abundant life” in this age. Today, we die. In the age to come, we live. As Jesus said to Martha…

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 25-6)

Do you believe this?

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: Holy Saturday

Peace be with you. (John 20:19)

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

Joseph of Arimathea providing a tomb for Jesus’s body

This is seventh post in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 7: Holy Saturday

After the crucifixion, with hopes dashed, undoubtedly Jesus’ followers questioned all that happened during the past 2 years.

It’s been said that faith isn’t something that arises after moments of understanding. Rather, faith is what you cling to when understanding and reason lay dead.

Faith is what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea showed during those dark hours of Holy Saturday.

They were closet followers of Jesus, as well as members of the Sanhedrin, the court that condemned Jesus Christ to death. Before this day they were too fearful to publicly profess their faith because of their prominent positions in the Jewish community. Now, deeply affected by Christ’s death, they come forward and risk their reputations and lives because they realize Jesus was, indeed, the long-awaited Messiah.

Joseph asks Pilate for the body of Jesus… With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-40)

The Pharisees, on the other hand, are uneasy. They remember what Jesus said.

Jesus answered and said unto them destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)

They turn to Pilate.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” (Matthew 27:62-64)

And Pilate responds.

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:65)

Through growing faith Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea play their role in the Passion. In contrast, the Pharisees, who just a few hours earlier engineered the death or Jesus, are now powerless to block the unfolding events. Not even Roman guards can help them.

Tomorrow: Easter Sunday

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.



Passion Week: Good Friday

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:1-5)

This is the sixth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 6: Good Friday

Yes, it’s Friday, but as Pastor S. M. Lockridge tells us, Sunday is a comin’.

 

Praise the Lord!

What a mighty God we serve. Amen? Amen!

 

Tomorrow: Jesus in the Tomb

Click here to begin reading this series with Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: The Last Supper

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (John 13:16)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

The Last Supper. Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1499)

This is the fifth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 5: The Last Supper

While at Bethany in the morning, Jesus sends Peter and John to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover. Later, Jesus comes from Bethany into Jerusalem to eat the Passover with the Twelve.

On the road, the Disciples argue about greatness. But greatness is serving, as Jesus shows by washing the disciples’ feet, beginning with Peter who is sitting at the last place at the table.

Then, he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:5)

This day, which has been called “Maundy Thursday” or “Holy Thursday” commemorates this act of service that took place during the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and the command Jesus gave them to love and serve one another.

Jesus says one among them will betray him. He dips bread and hands it to Judas, who took first place at the table. After Judas leaves, Jesus breaks bread and lifts a cup of wine, signifying his broken body and blood.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Around the table, Jesus predicts Peter’s (and all of the disciples’) denial.

Peter is adamant.

“Even though all may fall away because of you, I will never fall away… Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” All the disciples said the same thing too. (Matthew 26:33, 35)

Jesus answers.

“Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Matthew 26:34)

Jesus tells them not to worry.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that here I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

Later, Jesus and the disciples leave the Upper Room and go to the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus prays in agony to God the Father.

“his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He’s taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the council has gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.

Meanwhile, in the early morning hours as Jesus’ trial is getting underway, Peter denies knowing his Master once, twice, and then three times. The rooster crows.

One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. (John 18:27)

Tomorrow: Good Friday

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives

Click here to read Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal


Passion Week: Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. (John 6:64)

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

This is the fourth in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 4: Holy Wednesday — A Day of Plotting and Betrayal

The Bible doesn’t say what the Lord did on Wednesday of Passion Week. Scholars speculate that after two exhausting days in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciples spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of the Passover.

In contrast, the Great Sanhedrin is busy this day. This supreme court of ancient Israel includes 71 members. It’s constituted with a Chief/Prince/Leader called Nasi,  a vice chief justice (Av Beit Din), and sixty-nine general members. At this time the position of leader (High Priest) is held by Caiaphas.

So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” (John 11:45-48)

They have powers to try Jesus.

They plot to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)

The price negotiated with Judas to identify the One of inestimable worth is 30 pieces of silver (wages for about 4 months). Judas agrees to betray Jesus and says…

“What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him 30 pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

Tomorrow: The Last Supper

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

Click here to read Day 3: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.

The Sanhedrin plotting to kill Jesus.


Passion Week: Ambush in the Temple, the Mount of Olives

He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. (Matthew 21:19)

The vine Dresser and the Fig Tree. James Tissot.

The vine Dresser and the Fig Tree. James Tissot.

This is the third in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 3: It’s Tuesday

Peter and the other disciples see the withered fig tree on their way back into Jerusalem.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. (Mark 11:20)

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus engages in the final confrontation with the Jewish leaders whom he confounds.

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,  “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41-46)

Later, Jesus leaves the Temple, officially ending his public ministry.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.

But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”

He withdraws to the Mount of Olives and instructs his disciples.

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us,… what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

And Jesus answered them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs. (Matthew 24:1-14)

Tomorrow: Plotting to Kill Jesus.

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.

Click here to read Day 2: Jesus Clears the Temple.

 


Passion Week: Jesus Clears The Temple!

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him… In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1,3-4)

A painting of Jesus using a whip in the temple. Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, 1678.

A painting of Jesus using a whip in the temple. Giovanni Antonio Fumiani, 1678.

This is the second in a BCBC in Action series remembering Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 2: Monday in The Temple

Upon leaving Bethany in the morning, Jesus is hungry. He finds a leafy fig tree with no fruit and curses it.

And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. (Mark 11:14)

Jesus then enters Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple, just as He did at the opening of his public ministry.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. (Matthew 21:12)

Children in the Temple laud Jesus. He quotes Psalm 8 to the sneering Pharisees, again declaring His divinity.

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they ask him.

“Yes,” replies Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:16)

Repeatedly, Jesus openly proclaims his divinity. And the Jews knew who he claimed to be — not just the Messiah.

Jesus declared that he (the Son of Man) has authority to…

  • Forgive sins (Matt 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24)
  • Raise the dead (John 5:21,28; cf. Php 3:21)
  • Even raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19; 10:18)
  • Grant eternal life to others (John 17:2; Matt 25:34, 46)
  • Declare those are saved and which are rejected (Luke 12:8–9; Matt 10:32–33)

“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8–9)

And, in a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36-37)…

  • Act as an authority higher than the Law and the Sabbath (Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5).

Then, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5)

Tomorrow: Ambush in the Temple and the Mount of Olives.

Click here to read Day 1: Palm Sunday.


Passion Week: Remembering Christ’s Final Earthly Days

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-9)

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Passion Week (aka Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). It is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of his people.

Follow BCBC in Action this week as we remember Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 1: Palm Sunday

After 2 years of ministry, Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. He and the disciples are not alone. Pilgrims from far and wide are entering Jerusalem for the Passover. They meet Jesus along the road and begin to cry “Hosanna!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it’s actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Palm Sunday at Bent Creek Baptist Church

Happy the preacher and happy the hearer who find their theme and their attraction in the atoning death of our Lord and Savior. Thomas Griffith

Riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the King of Israel wails loudly and pronounces judgment on Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, (Luke 19:41)

Arriving late in the day, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the eastern Susa Gate, directly into the temple courts. Jesus looks around for any who bear the fruits of repentance, and then returns to Bethany with the disciples.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Tomorrow: Jesus openly proclaims his divinity.


Passion Week: Remembering Christ’s Final Earthly Days

Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-9)

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

Passion Week (aka Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). It is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of his people.

Follow BCBC in Action this week as we remember Christ’s final earthly days.

Day 1: Palm Sunday

After 2 years of ministry, Jesus begins his final journey to Jerusalem for the Passover. He and the disciples are not alone. Pilgrims from far and wide are entering Jerusalem for the Passover. They meet Jesus along the road and begin to cry “Hosanna!”

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it’s actually a plea for salvation. The Hebrew words yasha (“deliver, save”) and anna (“beg, beseech”) combine to form the word that, in English, is “hosanna.” Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!”

Riding on a donkey to fulfill prophecy, the King of Israel wails loudly and pronounces judgment on Jerusalem.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, (Luke 19:41)

Arriving late in the day, Jesus enters Jerusalem through the eastern Susa Gate, directly into the temple courts. Jesus looks around for any who bear the fruits of repentance, and then returns to Bethany with the disciples.

And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11)

Tomorrow: Jesus openly proclaims his divinity.


Paul, the Spirit, and Us

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:26)

Apostle Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century.

Apostle Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne, 17th century.

Ethics (aka our rules of behavior) are the moral principles that govern our lives. For Paul, it was a theological issue empowered by the Holy Spirit and related to the known character of our God.

“Ethics have everything do with God, and what God is about in Christ and the Spirit,” says Prof. Gordon Fee.

For example, the purpose (or basis) of Christian ethics is the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

The pattern for such ethics is the Son of God.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:20)

It is Christ himself, into whose likeness we are to be transformed.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

“Because the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ,” says Prof. Fee, in his book Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God, “and since the first-mentioned fruit of the Spirit is love, the Spirit not only empowers the believer for ethical behavior, but by indwelling the believer also reproduces the pattern and the principle of that behavior.

Erica John, an American novelist and poet, once said, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer. The ethical answers to life’s issues are within us through the Holy Spirit. Access them.

JC Watts, the politician and football player at the University of Oklahoma, tells us, “Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.” The Holy Spirit is always with us. We need only to act like it is.

 


Is it Possible to Have it All?

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, was recently interviewed about her struggles balancing motherhood with corporate responsibilities.

Ms. Nooyi says, “I don’t think women can have it all… Every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you.”

Grace of God. Shweta Kanhai

Grace of God. Shweta Kanhai

It’s true. We depend on and give support to family, neighbors, and friends all the time. In fact, during the early years of the growth of the Christian church its enemies were confounded by the support and charity Paul and other Christians poured out to each other and even to those who didn’t share their faith. Pagans and Judaizers (first century Jewish Christians who followed Old Testament laws) wondered, “How do we discredit people who show such love?”

And that’s the secret to having it all. Grace. Grace from God. Yes, there are a thousand ways to be stretched thin. But there’s only one way to truly have it all… to have Jesus — and like Him — to give it all away.


Blessed are the Meek

 

for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

A View of the Sea of Galilee from atop the Mount of Beatitudes

A View of the Sea of Galilee from atop the Mount of Beatitudes

Thousands gathered near the shore of Galilee and then up the mountain to hear Jesus of Nazareth speak the Beatitudes.

Question. Why does Jesus include the meekest among us for blessings? Why not achievers, perfectionists, geniuses, phenomes?

Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18)

“Meekness,” says columnist Ed Morrissey, “is not weakness; it is the answer to sinful pride and avarice.” The meek, mourn their own sinfulness; they see the poor among us—the materially poor and those ignorant of the Lord. The meek know the Lord is with them through persecution and ridicule. The meek no longer fear loss of status or damage to pride.

He concludes, “We do not live in meek times, but then again, neither did the people of Jesus’ time.” Through meekness as our guiding principle, we shine the light of the Lord a little brighter. We can receive Christ’s blessings, and be Christ’s blessings in a fallen world.


Pastor Sam Bennett Devotional: Family and the Beauty of Broken

Rembrandt-15

“The Prophet Jeremiah Mourning over the Destruction of Jerusalem.” Rembrandt van Rijn, 1630.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet because of the disheartening messages he delivered to the people of Israel and because of his poems in the book of Lamentations, which deal with the destruction of Jerusalem. However, God showed Jeremiah that no situation is irredeemable. No matter the defect, God remolded and reshaped the people of Israel into something useful and beautiful. All this occurred some 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In the New Testament, the epistles of Paul echo many of the thoughts of Jeremiah.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17).

Thankfully, today the Lord is here to work in our broken families.

In her book, The Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan reminds us that the family is an imperfect institution. Broken people become broken parents who make broken families.

Broken is normal and exactly where God wants us.

Over the years, Ms. Morgan’s family struggled privately with many issues parents face, including alcoholism and drug addiction, infertility and adoption, teen pregnancy and abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and death.

It’s all overwhelming; but there’s hope for parents to grow and thrive with God.

Powerfully, she tells us, there’s no such thing as a perfect family. In one way or another, we all end up in broken families. Even God’s family was broken beginning with Adam and Eve.

God knows we are wayward. He’s not calling us to a life where everything looks perfect on the outside. He’s calling us to the other side of brokenness, because he loves us — the broken.

Hope and healing come when we discover that God accepts the beauty in our brokenness, and our Savior can remold and reshape his people into useful, beautiful creations.

The key is to be “in Christ”.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)

 


Consider the Birds

 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)

Debbie Blue is a founding minister of House of Mercy, a church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She has published a book titled: Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible.

In the book, Pastor Blue covers the history, theology, and symbolism of birds discussed in the Bible: pelicans, eagles, vultures, ostriches, quail (and also pigeons).

Through these (usually) minor characters we receive poignant life lessons about humanity, faith, and God’s grace. Her thoughts on the sparrow — a common and somewhat nondescript bird — tell us of God’s love.

“God’s eye is on the sparrow. Our eyes are so often on something with a little more prestige… But the Scripture keeps pressing us to hear this: God loves what is ubiquitous. God loves the world — every single part of it — the bland, the ugly, the dingy squishy-faced, the monotonous and grating. There is no way in which God reserves God’s love for what the world finds beautiful or important. God loves the sinner. I believe God might like for us to have some of this love. Have it and share it — widely, all around.”

Jesus told us to consider the birds and recognize that we have nothing to worry about if we trust God to care for our daily needs. Amy Julia Becker reviewed Pastor Blue’s book and suggests that perhaps he also told us to consider the birds because they have much to teach and transform within us.


Christmas Gifts: Good Will Towards Men From God

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. (Luke 2:14)

Rick Walston, founder and president of Columbia Evangelical Seminary, reminds us of the primary meaning behind Luke 2:14. “People often chant ‘Peace on earth good will toward men,’ as a way of saying that we should have good will between our fellow humans during Christmas season.” They imply, says Dr. Watson, “have ‘peace on earth’ during this time.”

But what was actually meant by the angels on that night in the pasture was not “peace between men of good will” or even “peace and good will between men.” It was peace on earth and good will toward men from God. It was a gift.

Furthermore, says Pastor Mark Roberts of the Laity Lodge in the Hill Country of Texas, “Every modern translation of which I am aware appears to limit good will to those who please God, not to all people.” For example, The Message reads…

Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. (Luke 2:14).

Reading further in Luke reveals the true identity of the infant Jesus whom Simeon blessed along with his parents in the Jerusalem temple. Jesus’ objective went beyond to Israel — even to the world.

Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29-32)

Simeon recognized that Jesus came to reveal God’s love to all people — Israel and beyond.

Christmas is a good time to reflect on Jesus Christ. His gift is available to everyone. Decide if you want God’s peace and his good will toward you. If so, accept his one and only Son as your savior. No one else can give you peace with God. No one else can cause God to pour out his good will toward you.

Only Jesus.


The Diversity Challenge: Tanner Besosa Blogs from BMW

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Minnow In a Sea of Diversity. David Larkins

The Minnow In a Sea of Diversity. David Larkins

College presents students with not only ethnic diversity but a confrontation between different beliefs, world views, and moral choices. In this post, Tanner Besosa addresses the third challenge facing college students: the diversity challenge.

How do you deal with challenges raised by alternative views to your own faith—both in the classroom and in the dorm room?

Most of the time when other views come up in class, as long as it is not against Biblical standards and is just a doctrinal view, I just let it go.

It is part of the Florida Free Bible, Missionary, & Work Training Center (BMW) rules not to argue those things, and in Paul’s second letter to Timothy he warns him to stay away from those arguments

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16-17).

Outside of the classroom it is a lot different because of the different views of faith. Also, there are a lot of challenges that come from BMW rules. This is because there are rules that don’t come from biblical standards. They are rules that the school put in place. So, it is difficult when I personally don’t believe something is wrong and the rules say otherwise, this can be a big challenge.

I would appreciate your prayers while facing this challenge while I am here, to have integrity in all things according to the rules and authority I am under.

Love in Christ,

Tanner Besosa

 

The first post of Tanner’s blog can be found here.

The second entry is here.

Read the third entry here.


Stephen Hyder: Prayer as a First Step Towards a New Job

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. (Isaiah 41:10)

Stephen Hyer (second from right) with members of the BCBC youth ministry.

Stephen Hyer (second from right) with members of the BCBC youth ministry.

Losing a job is one of the most stressful life experiences. And today, nearly 94 million Americans are neither employed nor looking for work.

For them, it’s normal to feel angry, hurt, depressed, scared, and grief at all that they’ve lost. It’s normal to feel anxious about what the future holds.

Job loss and unemployment can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem.

While it can all seem overwhelming, there are many things you can do to take control of the situation. And at the top of the list is prayer.

Pastor Tommy tells us, “Prayer is a cornerstone of life.”

On life’s journey, sometimes prayer is forgotten. It can get lost as we become overwhelmed by issues of the moment.

Stephen Hyder recently went through one of those times—the fear of a job slipping away followed by the trepidation of a job lost. But unlike many who in difficult times forget to pray, he turned towards prayer for support and guidance.

Here is his moving story.


Fear the Lord

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12)

God the Father and the Sinner. Ladislav Záborský, 2007.

God the Father and the Sinner. Ladislav Záborský, 2007.

The Bible uses the word fear at least 300 times in reference to God. Today, fear usually refers to an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. And it is used this way in the Bible as well.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

But there are two sides of fear in the Bible. Yes, there is fear displayed as cowering in dread and terror in anticipation of displeasure. But there is also fear based on awe, reverence, and obedience.

Dr. David Jones in his audio lecture on Christian ethics describes fear of the Lord as reverent submission motivated by love. Love is key. It is love as it might be offered to a parent by a child because the little one knows that all needs will be met and life is safe from harm.

Eugene Merrill, a distinguished professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, assures us that “fear of God lies at the heart of successful living in the world. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, a fear equated with the ‘knowledge of the Holy One’”.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

“To fear God,” continues Professor Merrill, “is to know him and to know him is to fear him. Such healthy fear enables one to praise God.”

He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7)

Reverent submission that motivates us to obey him — fear of the Lord — allows us to enjoy his benefits and blessings.

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children — with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. (Psalm 103:17-18)

Steadfast obedience that is motivated by love — fear of the Lord — is to rest in peace and security.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Their hearts are secure; they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. (Psalm 112:7-8)

Fear that allows us to warm ourselves in his peace and security, offers, in the long run, a satisfying life.

The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short. (Proverbs 10:27).

Praise our Lord, and fear him as a child towards a loving parent.

 

 


Deacon Means Servant

Paul and Timothy, the servants 
of Jesus Christ, to all the saints 
in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. (Philippians 1:1)

Pastor Tommy Bridges with our new deacons, Don Fender and Daniel Byers

Pastor Tommy Bridges with our new deacons, Don Fender and Daniel Byers

Last Sunday, Don Fender and Daniel Byers were installed as deacons at BCBC. It is a noble undertaking.

Deacon, diakonia, means service at the table, and is mentioned 34 times in the New Testament. Don and Daniel join a long and distinguished group of men of the church in a service that has evolved since the early days of the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Here’s some history

Early on, the apostles, in dealing with the benevolence ministry problem at the Jerusalem church, told the congregation…

It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. Acts 6:2-4 (NKJV)

“Business” in this sense according to the Greek “chreia” means “need”.

Derek Gentle, writing in The Baptist Start Page, traces the history of Deacons. From the 2nd through 5th centuries, deacons were the real agents of charity provided through the church. They served the needs of widows and orphans. They visited the martyrs in prison and helped to train new converts. They watched over the church members, reporting to the bishop any who seemed about to fall away. They also attempted to restore the excommunicated.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

The Middle Ages 

For a long period from the 5th to the 15th century, the Office of Deacon changed and less resembled the New Testament model. Medieval deacons assumed an increasingly ecclesiastical role. It became a path to advance to the priesthood.

The Reformation

This again changed during the reformation, which started in the 16th century. Martin Luther stated, “The diaconate is the ministry, not of reading the Gospel or the Epistle, as is the present practice, but of distributing the church’s aid to the poor.”

John Calvin agreed, “Scripture specifically designates as deacons those whom the church has appointed to distribute alms and take care of the poor, and serve as stewards of the common chest for the poor.”

Similarly, in the early 1600’s, John Smyth, an early Baptist minister in England and a defender of the principle of religious liberty, and Thomas Helwys, one of the founders, of General Baptist denomination, saw the primary role of deacons as carrying out the benevolence ministry of the church.

An expanding role again

By the latter half of the 18th century however, the activities of deacons expanded this time to include serving as business managers for the church in order to relieve the pastor from the secular concerns of the church.

In 1846, R. B. C. Howell, an early Tennessee Baptist and editor, referred to deacons as, “A board of directors, and have charge of the all the secular affairs in the kingdom of Christ.”

Deacons today

Deacon Cross by Ron Schmidt

Deacon Cross by Ron Schmidt

By the 1950’s and intensifying in the 1970’s this role for deacons was rejected. In 1991 Jerry Songer, of the Chattanooga Central Baptist Church, wrote that, “The board of deacons and business manager concept is no longer a viable model”

Baptists today agree that God established the deacon position to provide servant leadership for churches. According to the Bible, the office of deacon is an honor and a blessing.

For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 3:13).

We thank Don Fender and Daniel Byers for their service.

 

Thanks to Doug Van Wirt for the photo.


Make Disciples of All Nations

So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. (Acts 2:41-42)

Stephen Hyder baptized son, Gracen.

Stephen Hyder baptized son, Gracen.

Jesus said…

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19–20)

Last Sunday was a happy time at Bent Creek Baptist Church as 3 more people made a personal and public commitment to Christ through baptism.

Josie White baptized by close "spiritual grandfather," Atticus.

Josie White baptized by close “spiritual grandfather,” Atticus.

Christian baptism is a statement of faith and discipleship. In baptism we confess our faith in Christ who has scoured our soul of sin, giving us a new life. 

It is a practice that goes back to the beginning of the church. An essential part of being Christian. We may debate orthodoxy, but all Christians agree that baptism is an essential part of being united with Christ.

Consider the symbolism associated with being submerged in water to rise again a new person.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Rom. 6:4-5)

Dale Butler baptized friend, Linda Price.

Dale Butler baptized friend, Linda Price.

“Baptism is not a requirement for salvation,” says H. Wayne House, at Faith Seminary in Tacoma, Washington. “Rather, it is to faith what words are to ideas.”

Last Sunday, three people stated their commitment to Christ. Hallelujah.

 

 

Thanks to Doug Van Wirt for the photos.


Come, Lord Jesus

Pastor Tommy Bridges

Pastor Tommy Bridges

 Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22:12-13)

In Revelation 21 and 22 we learn that the Lord will return for us. He may come any day, or he may wait 10,000 years. What we can rely on however, is that he will keep his promise.

The Bible teaches that those who believe in Jesus will not be condemned for their sin (Romans 5:8-9 and 8:1, and, John 5:24).

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5: 8-9)

The Bible also speaks of “rewards” given to “everyone according to what they have done” (Romans 2:6 and14:12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, and Matthew 16:27). Click here and here for more articles on this topic.

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. (2 Corinthians 5:10)

There are several things to remember in our Christian walk while waiting for Jesus to return.

For Growing Christians

  • Growth is about the direction you are headed, not just the distance you’ve traveled.

For non-Growing Christians

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to arouse a renewed appetite for God.

For non-Christians

  • Know well that Jesus is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

For Everyone

  • And let those who hear say, “Come!” Whoever is thirty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Rev. 22:17)

Live your life in the grace of God, and cling to the Christ who died on the cross and rose victoriously.

Pastor Tommy and the congregation of Bent Creek Baptist Church invite you to join us each Sunday at 11 am in the worship sanctuary. Come early, and join us for Sunday School at 9:30 am.

 

 


Meditate on Scripture

"God Provides" (Genesis 22). Abraham’s relief of God's provision and the benefit of trusting God even when circumstances seem tragic.

“God Provides” (Genesis 22). Abraham’s relief of God’s provision and the benefit of trusting God even when circumstances seem tragic.

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7)

It’s easy to read the Bible too quickly, especially if you’ve read the story before. After all, you know the ending. But reading quickly not only risks missing deeper knowledge but also underlying emotions.

Can you imagine Abraham’s mental contortion when he learned his son would not be sacrificed?

"The grief of God: A new beginning" (Genesis 7:1-24). Imagine the moments after God shut the door to the ark. Fists banging and voices yelling for the only way that leads to life to be reopened. The way we live our life matters.

“The grief of God: A new beginning” (Genesis 7:1-24). Imagine the moments after God shut the door to the ark. Fists banging and voices yelling for the only way that leads to life to be reopened. The way we live our life matters.

Have you considered the agony of Noah and his family when the rains came, and they heard clawing and anguish on the other side of the arc. Too late.

Some believe that Jesus might have been two years old when the wise men finally made their way to his house. What is the emotion of a young boy or a young God-man when foreigners arrive at the door?

"The Terrible Lie" (Genesis 3:1-24). Distraught and distant from God, Adam and Eve wonder what will happen next. Emotionally separated from each other, having to leave the garden must have been so scary.

“The Terrible Lie” (Genesis 3:1-24). Distraught and distant from God, Adam and Eve wonder what will happen next. Emotionally separated from each other, having to leave the garden must have been so scary.

Were Adam and Eve capable of understanding the full consequences of their actions?

"Beholding God With Us" (Matthew 2). Siting at Joseph and Mary's front door, Jesus watches the Magi arrive. At two years old (or even as an infant), did Jesus know the Magi would come? Psalm 139 tells us God's eyes saw us when we were formless, and all our days were written and planned before a single one of them began.

“Beholding God With Us” (Matthew 2). Siting at Joseph and Mary’s front door, Jesus watches the Magi arrive. At two years old (or even as an infant), did Jesus know the Magi would come? Psalm 139 tells us God’s eyes saw us when we were formless, and all our days were written and planned before a single one of them began.

Craig Hawkins has thought about such things, and using charcoal, put his thoughts to paper. Ponder his work. Perhaps he has uncovered a new dimension of Biblical insight for you.

We’re here for you. Share your thoughts with us every Sunday at Bent Creek Baptist Church.

 


Christ: “First Instance” of the New Man

That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:17)

The Sower. Vincent van Gogh (1888)

The Sower. Vincent van Gogh (1888)

“Perhaps a modern man can understand the Christian idea best if he takes it in connection with Evolution,” suggests C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

The process of evolution in literature and cinema is dominated by creatures that develop great brains and mastery over nature. “But I,” says Lewis, “cannot help thinking that the Next Step will be really new.” Lewis suggests that the greatest leap in evolution occurred about 2000 years ago with the birth of Jesus. We are living it today, and unlike earlier stages we have a choice to latch on, or not.

For creatures in earlier days, the inability to evolve amounted ultimately to a creature being lost over time — extinction. Today, our failure to respond to Christ’s offer of eternal life will cause us to lose a prize that is, in the strictest sense of the word, infinite.

C. S. Lewis believed. “Until we rise and follow Christ we are still parts of Nature… Her pregnancy has been long and painful and anxious, but it has reached its climax…  Now, the Doctor has arrived. Will the birth (this new life) go off all right?” We have the option to stay in the dark and the warmth of the womb — a tempting choice, but with death as the reward.

There is another way.

And this is what he promised us — eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

For many (2.2 billion, worldwide) this new option is being taken. We are here and there all over the earth. Some, are hardly recognizable: but others can be clearly perceived, with voices and faces that are stronger, quieter, happier, more radiant.

Our lives begin where most others leave off and must not be confused with the character of “religious people” gleaned from secular proclamations. Children of God do not draw attention to themselves. They love you more than other men do, but they need you less. Moreover, announcements of our demise are disappointing, not for us but because we know that time is short for those who fail to evolve.

Live your life. But as you do, take time to look for Christ. Do it, and you will find Him, and “with Him everything else thrown in”.

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. (Isaiah 59:1)

Want to learn more? Then, go to church this Sunday.

Do more. Go to Sunday School.