James 4:7 7 Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Over the past two months I have been able to sit and listen to some of our leaders as they shared their stories. The conference entitled “Success Stories of Rehoboth” provided them an opportunity to share. The conference was planned and conducted by the Church Strengthening Team of Rehoboth taking place at FBC Brownstown and Smithgrove Baptist church in September and October. I listened to the conference leaders: Bruce Sasee, Jay Huddleston, Bob Eval, Tommy Chapman, and Robin Hayes as they shared their stories of God doing great things in their churches and in their lives. I was reminded that people had influenced the lives of these folks to walk the talk in their lives. They were motivated as they saw the needs of people around them.
He has called the five people mentioned earlier in this article to work with the people he created here on earth. Bruce and Jay love people deeply. They see those not in the church with great compassion and reach out to them. They lead their church to reach out to them. Robin sees women with great compassion. God has led her to touch the wives of women in a variety of ways. Some of the ways extend beyond the church walls. Tommy sees people through God’s eyes and wants them experience the relationship with God and God’s people that is rich and full. Bob sees the potential of sharing Christ with folks who come for physical food and in addition get spiritual food. Each of these folks serve in a church just like yours. The churches range in size from 15-150. They are in open country, small villages and just outside of town. God isn’t concerned about the location of your church. He is concerned about your availability to serve him.
Their service started as they became personally challenged by the Lord through Bible Study. It seems they were each challenged to do something bigger than themselves with God. They submitted to God just as James instructed in James 4:7. The first 6 verses of chapter 4 speak of our battle with pride and humility. James points out that many problems in the church come from our pride and desire to make ourselves better known. James says we lie and covet to feel better about ourselves. The problem James says is the importance of “I”. I am more important than anyone. In previous chapters James tells us not to play favorites and treat all equally. We walk the talk by following God not the ways of man. Following God is not comfortable. It makes us rely upon him. Each person who serves God in ways that is bigger than them is submitting to God and following Him. When I submit to God I resist the devil. The devil tells me I can’t do things for the Lord. I am inadequate, unskilled, and insecure. The devil loves to get in the middle of our lives and tell us that we can’t, I can’t, or you can’t.
I can still remember my first pastoral visit to Barnes hospital in the mid 1980’s. The patient was Bob Powers. He was in intensive care awaiting open heart surgery. I couldn’t pick Bob out of any crowd. I was asked by my pastor at that time to go and pray with Bob before his 7am surgery. I had no trouble getting up early and getting down there. I encountered a totally foreign place with huge lobby’s and locked doors in ICU and no admittance signs. I had nothing on me to prove I was a pastor and needed to see Bob. I just kept walking forward telling the folks in charge what I wanted and eventually stood at Bob’s bedside. Our visit was brief and pleasant. It started a several year friendship. It taught me the value of following God in an area that was way out of my comfort zone. I was challenged to walk the talk by caring. God called the introvert pig farmer to work with people. We walk the talk by submitting to God.
Olen Evans is the leader of the Church Strengthening Team. Olen has served Brownstown Church faithfully almost 30 years. He has served by submitting to God. God asks every believer to serve him in some way. We can’t feel that we are too good for any job. We must fill our role in the kingdom to the best of our gifts and abilities. I am reminded that as God calls us to serve He equips us to serve. I don’t have to be the best and brightest (I can hear the laughter now). I just have to be faithful.
If God has called you to preach, submit and preach. If God has called you to teach third graders the Bible then teach. Should God call you to change diapers of babies, be the best diaper changer ever as you sing Jesus Loves Me to your little blessing.
When you submit to God and walk the talk with Jesus the devil always flees. Have a great time serving the Lord with Gladness.
James 4:7 7 Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Growing up as a child my folks would take me to church many Sunday Nights. Sometimes it was optional sometimes it was mandatory. I often endured Sunday night church during the summer months with the thought of maybe we might stop by the Dairy Queen on the way home. Ice cream is a favorite of mine. The DQ has also been a favorite. I can remember sitting in the backseat of the car hoping and praying that we would stop by the DQ. The route home often took us by the DQ. Sometimes my prayers were answered in favor of ice cream and my hopes were realized. Other times we went home with no DQ. I have not blamed God for no DQ and certainly have not been scarred by it. My view of Hope was shaped a little by that experience in that I began to define hope as something that had the option of happening. I have discovered years later that miss-defining of the word hope also led me to make God small and unreliable. I had to make excuses for God when things didn’t work out well in my life. Bigger things than the DQ; people died, money wasn’t present for things in life I thought were needed, you get the picture. Many times in life we hope and pray yet nothing happens. What is up with that? While I can’t answer the deep question in few paragraphs I can share some of what God has taught me about hope over the past years or decades.
First of all Merriman defines Hope: 1: to desire with expectation of obtainment 2: to expect with confidence. This definition leaves nothing to chance or failure. I expect it to happen. I have found my hope is casual and situational until I get really serious about an issue. This leads us to the story of Hannah found in I Samuel 1-2. The brief Joe version of the story goes like this. Hannah had been married for a long time to Elkhannah,(check it out). The culture of the day placed the value of the woman in direct proportion to the number of children she had given birth to. Hannah was childless. Another cultural phenomenon was polygamy. Elkhannah had a second wife which had given him two children. The second wife would take every opportunity to tease Hannah and make her feel bad because she had no children. Hannah’s self-worth and life satisfaction hit the all-time low one day. She went to the Temple to pray. She was so intent on praying that her lips were moving yet no words were coming out. She poured her heart out to God. She told God how miserable she was because she had no children. She told God if he gave her a son she would dedicate him to the service of the Lord and raise him to be a Godly person. Her intensity in praying made her oblivious to what was happening around her. The priest approached her and hearing no words coming out of her mouth accused her of being drunk and out of her head. She left the temple and went home. A short time later she found out she was pregnant. A few months later a son was born. Hannah went from no hope to full of hope. Her God got bigger because she got serious with God.
Hope is to desire with expectation that what you hope for will happen. There are four truths we must come to understand and that must come alive to know HOPE in our life.
H-hope is heavenly. We find in the life of Hannah that prior to her intense prayer time she had asked God for a child but had not gotten intensely serious with God. She wanted a child but hadn’t been overly serious. We must pray intensely, directing our thoughts and energy to a holy God acknowledging that God is supreme, all powerful, and is the focus of our prayers. God is not a cosmic Santa who gets the list from us. We start our prayer focus on God. God created you and I to be in relationship with Him and he is at the top of the relationship chart. God is supreme.
O-open your heart to God. Hannah finally got to the point in her relationship with God that she opened her heart. She poured out her hurt, disappointment, and desperate feelings. God wants you and I to get down and dirty with him. If your angry tell him, disappointed with him tell him. God knows how you feel he wants you to say it to him. This opens up communication with him. God knows your heart better than you do. Get real. Being real with God is the beginning of hope, peace and contentment in life.
P-put self aside. Hannah in her prayer told God her son would be the Lords. She removed her self-centered nature out of her life. I find many of my prayers are about me and mine. I want to focus God’s attention on what I perceive he needs to be doing. Hannah found hope and peace in her relationship with God when she focused more on what God would want with a child than what she would want. Many things we ask God for are all about me. God is about using me to change the world through me. My relationship with God isn’t about me but about God working through me.
E-expect God to act. I believe in Hannah’s intense prayer she got to the point she expected God to act on her behalf. My version of hope is maybe. If my faith is so weak I am maybe in my prayers then why would God act. I must pray believing. There is no formula to answered prayer. When I pray unselfishly and believe God acts. He may not answer the way I want yet he always responds.
In our little corner of the world in Fayette County with poverty, health issues, family challenges and world crisis that weigh on our mind God desires to give you hope. He is a big God who can give hope, assurance, and peace for daily living. He does this when he owns our heart. The secret to a great relationship with a Holy God is to live in the Zone with God. Intensely and daily seek the Lord with our entire heart not half-heartedly.
Got Hope? Real hope is ready for you as you trust a big God.
Rehoboth Baptist Association Annual Meeting
September 13, 2014 @ 4 pm
Come and hear what God is doing through our churches!
Dinner will be provided.
The old phrase “time is money” runs through my head occasionally. Yet time to many people today seems to be more precious than our money. We guard our time, hoard our time, and protect our time from many things. We also have many great things competing for our time. Leisure activities, work opportunities, and family style and life each pull at our time. Time is measured differently by God. Psalm 90:4 (HCSB) 4 For in Your sight a thousand years are like yesterday that passes by, like a few hours of the night. God views time differently than we do. Yet at times you and I become consumed by how we use or time and what we use our time for.
I have found that many believers walk the talk of following Christ by giving their time. Rehoboth Camp has been serving children from all walks of life both from the five counties of Rehoboth and from many different states. It is common to have kids come to camp because their parents had a touch from God at camp. Camp is possible as people walk the talk by giving time. Leaders of our camp include directors, counselors, nurses, preachers, musicians, cooks, rec people, craft people, finishing leaders, archery leaders, and the list is endless. Did I mention compass people? How about people which clean up, disinfect, remove brush, paint and sew. I sat watching a recreation time and have to admit I was a bit overwhelmed as I thought about the countless volunteers who marched through my mind. Volunteers come from all walks of life. A common factor is they give their time unselfishly.
Pat Johnson led the devotion at the flag pole at Younger Boys Camp. One thing he said referencing a movie they saw the night before was I want you to know what it is like to be free. Free in Christ who changes your life. Pat went on to say God is about what you can do, not what you can’t do. Like many Pat has served Rehoboth camp for many years. In fact I think he and Rachel Steele started the same year, Pat as counselor, Rachel as nurse. They serve along with hundreds of other volunteers each year because they walk the talk as Christians. We serve Christ because we love him. The folks who help at camp serve because they love him. It is a unique ministry that God gifts and equips folks for. They serve tirelessly with others. They give their time. Some take time off work at their own expense, others use vacation time. They serve the Lord with a grateful and thankful heart.
Walking the talk is not limited to giving time at church camp. It is defined by giving time freely in any act of service to our Lord. Some folks serve within the church teaching, clearing, cooking, meeting and greeting people. Others get out of the walls of the church and visit the lost, sick, hurting, and down and out. Some serve by going on mission across town, across the state, or across the world. Each person who goes on mission with God gives time. Many give large quantities of time and money. We walk the talk by freely giving to our Lord. I have mentioned Pat Johnson and Rachel Steele in the article. I must also mention Josh Bledsoe, Jennifer Flowers, and Ashley Miller who served as camp directors. They enlisted and trained volunteers and organized a week of camp.
Camp volunteers are no more important than Sunday School teachers, preachers, music leaders, or other volunteers in the church. Every person who serves the Lord is valued because we are saved to serve not to sit. I could list around one hundred names of people who gave time at the camp this year. I appreciate each of you, pray for you, and am thankful for you.
Walk the talk with Christ. Please above all else find your gift of service, niche of service, and get in the service game with God. We are saved to serve not to sit. The retirement plan for service is heaven. I have noticed in scripture that no one quit serving until they went to heaven. Thanks to the faithful servants. You are loved and appreciated.
We all long to lead and serve churches that are reaching our communities, but sometimes we can get discouraged and lose hope. Sometimes we start listing all the reasons why we won’t see God use us.
But God is working in our churches, and God has done some amazing things even in our own local association. Join us as churches in YOUR Association share the ups and downs of successful change and ministry. Take the first step to your church being a success story too!