LOVE IS A VERY SPLENDID THING

Love is a very splendid thing

It has been said that “love is a very splendid thing.”

Of the endless list of splendid things I could say of my love, Shirley, one that comes to mind today is all the love and care she has put in over the years to record our lives in pictures. We have a cabinet full of photo albums that hold the treasure of our journey together.Cabinet of Photo Albums

Every once in a while we will pull out an album, sit side-by-side, and look through the pictures and talk about our memories of each picture and how much fun we had. When we finish that album, usually one of the three of us will suggest looking at another specific vacation or event. The pictures are a reminder of the love, joy, happiness, adventure, fun, and laughter we have had throughout the years. It also reminds us of how far we have come over the last 22 years.Family Photo Albums

The love and anticipation that we felt when we stood at the altar and exchanged vows doesn’t compare to that which we have now. Why? Because now we have experienced the events of life that have been built upon the foundation of the love and anticipation we felt all those years ago. We now have hindsight into what it took to get to this point.

It is remembering that in all the joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness, peace and pain, accomplishments and failures, hopes and disappointments that we can make it through together until death do us part.

There is another picture album I like to look through when individually I am struggling—it’s the Bible.

In the Bible I see one picture after another where the grace of God empowered and equipped men and women just like me to accomplish great things, even in the midst of fear, pain, and tragedy.

Some of the pictures of grace I see are:
• God’s grace upon Adam and Eve after they sinned. (Genesis 3)
• God’s grace upon Cain after he killed Abel. (Genesis 4)
• God’s grace upon Noah of wisdom for the message to preach and how to build the ark. (Genesis 6)
• God’s grace upon Moses to be able to speak and stay humble in the midst of great victories. (Exodus)
• God’s grace upon David to go from shepherd to king. (I Samuel 16)
• God’s grace upon the 12 disciples to leave their possessions, follow Jesus, overcome fear, preach the Word, spread the good news of Christ, and endure martyrdom. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts)

Regardless of what we are going through, we can pick up the Bible and find pictures of God’s grace being poured into the lives of His children to help them through every possible challenge.

God’s grace still empowers believers today, just as it did those in Biblical times.

God’s grace is truly amazing. But not only is God’s grace amazing, it is also timeless.  In tomorrow’s post, we will explore 1 Corinthians 1.4-9 and see pictures of God’s Timeless Grace.

What challenges have you walked through where you found God’s grace poured out into your life? What struggles are you currently going through that you need an extra measure of God’s grace to help get you through?

God’s Timeless Grace is Part 2 in the Sermon Series Church 101: A Study of 1 Corinthians at Living Oaks Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.

Join us at 10:45 AM each Sunday for contemporary music and worship as we continue the series Church 101.Saving a seat for you

Living Oaks Baptist Church 8855 E 91st St
Tulsa, OK 74133

The Infrastructure of the Church

Church 101

The Infrastructure of the Church

As we begin our study of Church 101, the first basic truth we will see is found in 1 Corinthians 1:1-3.

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

As we take a closer look at these three verses we are going to see the infrastructure of The Church of God.

First, The Church of God is made up of THE MESSENGER

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother”. (1 Corinthians 1:1)

The reason behind Paul’s opening in verse one is because those in Corinth were questioning his authority. The initial address of sectarianism is seen later in chapter one. Paul’s Position is stated clearly: He is an apostle. He was called by the will of God.

This speaks to the divine origin of HIS POSITION

God chose Paul. This was not a task he volunteered for. He was an apostle sent by God. The word Apostle (apostolos) means “sent from”. In the Greek, the one sent isn’t the main focus, rather the focus is upon the sender and the reason for the sending. So, God is the focus! God is responsible for Paul’s ministry as well as the message he is writing to the Corinthians (and to us). John MacArthur clarifies the role of the one sent:

When the Jewish supreme court, the Sanhedrin, was asked to arbitrate a serious dispute or to give an interpretation regarding Jewish law or tradition, they would send their decision by an apostolos to the parties involved, who were often represented through a synagogue. As far as the message was concerned, the apostolos possessed the full authority of the Sanhedrin. He did not speak for himself, but for the Sanhedrin. Yet he was more than a messenger. He was an emissary, an envoy, an ambassador. Paul was God’s envoy, God’s ambassador (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 6:20), God’s apostolos. (MacArthur 222-26)

Paul wanted them to know he was writing God’s message and that he is simply an emissary delivering the Lord’s message.

The next thing we learn about The Messenger is: HIS PERSON

“and Sosthenes our brother”
Though an apostle, he was still equal to all believers. All Christians are saints. The Corinthians had those who thought they were super-saints. Either prominence, prosperity, or power led them to feel superior. Paul associates himself with the church in Corinth using the term “Our brother”. The New Testament consistently presents the theme of family: We are One through the blood of Christ Jesus!

How is this applicable to the church today? Ministers are called by God. Trust me, no one chooses to be a minister. All are chosen and called by God to a specific task. Ministers are to proclaim the eternal, timeless message of God. We are ambassadors for God. We are delivering His message.

Even though ministers have different responsibilities they are still equal to the saints. All believers are a part of the body of Christ, so none are more important than the others. Ministers lead the sheep, but only by following Christ’s leadership. They are to be treated as part of the family. When a group or person tries to run the church it is never a good thing. When a pastor sees himself as a dictator it is never a good thing. It is like a single cancer cell that will eventually destroy the whole body. The church is one body united in Christ.

The first infrastructure of the church of God is GOD’S MINISTER.

In tomorrow’s post we will examine the Second Part of the Infrastructure of the Church of God.

Resource: MacArthur, John. 1 Corinthians. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1984.

The Church of God is the first in the Sermon Series Church 101: A Study of 1 Corinthians at Living Oaks Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.

Join us at 10:45 AM each Sunday for contemporary music and worship as we continue the series Church 101.

Living Oaks Baptist Church
8855 E 91st St
Tulsa, OK 74133
www.lobc.net
918-250-0210

Saving a seat for you

A How To Manual for the Christian Church

The Church of God

Church 101 A Study in 1 Corinthians
There was a mother who had watched her son through the week begin to drain in energy. And by the end of the week he had simply lost the desire to get up and get with the day. She heard the alarm go off through the door. She listened as nine minutes passed and the alarm went off again. Apparently he just kept punching the little snooze button on top of the alarm. Finally, after three or four extra rings, she decided to take charge so she walked in and said, “Son, it’s time to get up. You’ve got to get up.” He peeked out from under the covers and said, “Can you give me three good reasons I have to get up?” She said, “Well, yes. First of all, it’s Sunday, and you need to get dressed for church. Second, you’re forty-three years old and you know better than to lie there. Third, you’re the pastor of the church and they expect you to be there!” (Swindoll 419)

I imagine this is how Paul might have felt when he heard all that was happening in the church of Corinth. And yet in spite of all they were doing wrong, Paul begins his letter with encouragement, joy, and thanksgiving. His letter dealing with the problems in the church of Corinthians is more like a how-to-do-church book. In fact, because of this I have entitled our study of 1 Corinthians as Church 101. In this wonderful book we will learn a great many lessons on how to or even how not to do church.

Some of the major issues we’ll deal with are:

  1. Divisiveness
  2. Church Discipline
  3. Litigious spirit
  4. Privileges and limitations of Christian Liberty
  5. Principles of Rhetoric
  6. Domestic Issues
  7. Women’s Roles and Status—home, church, society
  8. Behavior at the Lord’s Table
  9. Spiritual Gifts
  10. The Resurrection

As we study through the book, we’ll see the problems Paul addresses were not just relevant to 1st century Corinth, but are still pertinent for the church in 21st century. In tomorrow’s post we will explore the first three verses in Chapter One and examine the Infrastructure of the Church of God.

Resources:Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998.

The Church of God is the first in the Sermon Series Church 101: A Study of 1 Corinthians at Living Oaks Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK.

Join us at 10:45 AM each Sunday for contemporary music and worship as we continue the series Church 101.

Living Oaks Baptist Church
8855 E 91st St
Tulsa, OK 74133
www.lobc.net
918-250-0210

Saving a seat for you

 

Chick-Fil-A Wednesday

I read this on Mike Huckabee’s Facebook page and think he has assessed the situation correctly. Regardless of your position on marriage, if you are an American that believes that our right to free speech is a gift that others have bought with their life’s blood, then you should be eating at Chick-fil-a tomorrow.

Huckabee writes:

A little over a week ago, I simply urged people to go and eat at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1.  I mentioned it on my TV show and have been discussing it on my daily radio show.  The media has called it a “protest.”  It is most certainly not.  No one is protesting anything.  This is not a stand against a person, a group of people, or even someone else’s belief.  This is a simple act of having a meal at a place that sells chicken, not politics.  It’s to affirm to a Christian brother, Dan Cathy, that he has not been disenfranchised from his citizenship nor his right of free speech as a taxpaying American.  It is about taking a stand for businesses to be free of economic bullying and hate speech.  It is an opportunity to have a decent meal at a decent place that was founded and continues to be run by decent people who believe in treating their customers and employees with kindness and to say “thank you” to them.  The only protest that I know of… is coming from the chickens, who will give their lives in large numbers to accommodate what hopefully will be a big day at Chick Fil-A. Chick Fil-A neither proposed this nor has promoted it.  It was a simple idea I had and shared with a few friends, posted  the online and asked them to share with their friends.  I don’t have that many friends, but my friends seem to.  Since then, over 21 million have viewed my Facebook event page.  We are north of half a million people who have said they will eat at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday and still adding more.  Millions more are aware of it and might show up in one of the 1600 Chick Fil-A stores. The attacks on Christians are disturbing, especially by “wanna be tyrants, like the mayors of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D. C. who have vowed to either keep Chick Fil-A out of their communities or have openly said this business is not welcome because they (the mayors) don’t agree with the personal views of the Chick Fil- A CEO.  Not only is such a position by the mayors illegal and unconstitutional, but it’s disturbing to think that anyone elected to public office would publicly exhibit their bigotry toward Christians, their hypocrisy in singling out only Christians, but not others including Muslims who have even stronger beliefs about same sex marriage, and their contempt of the law regarding censorship and free speech.  On Wednesday, the lines might be long, but your presence and your purchase is a statement.  America doesn’t need more protesters-we’ll leave that to the Occupy crowd.  America needs more protectors of freedom, family, and faith.  And in this case, chicken nuggets!

The Way to a Peaceful Mind

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4.4-9 ESV).

Culture Is Redefining What’s Right, Wrong

Lillian Kwon’s article on Jonathan Falwell’s Mother’s Day sermon is fantastic and something every Christian needs to hear!

Joining pastors throughout the country in denouncing President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, Pastor Jonathan Falwell told thousands from the pulpit that they must protect the biblical definition of marriage, even if the culture and the president tries to redefine it.

“We’ve got to protect marriage; we’ve got to protect our families; we’ve got to protect the Church,” Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., preached Sunday. “I don’t care what the world says; I don’t care what the culture says; I don’t even care what the president says. With all due respect … the Bible says that God made them male and female and the two shall become one flesh.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman, period,” he said to applause from the congregation.

Falwell, son of the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, had pondered and prayed about whether to continue his message series on “Holy Wars” or preach on something more pertinent to Mother’s Day on Sunday.

But he was convinced that there was no better day than Mother’s Day to talk about marriage and family especially at a time when those institutions are being attacked, he told the megachurch of some 20,000 members.

“We’ve got to understand that indeed we are in the midst of a battle … the battlefield is something that is very, very real in our lives,” he preached. It’s a battle that rages in our hearts, souls and minds, he added.

Satan, Falwell warned, is trying to keep people from enjoying God’s great blessings.

Reading from the New Testament, Galatians 5, Falwell listed adultery, fornication, uncleanness and lewdness as sins.

God, he stressed, provides a “very clear understanding so there is no gray area” on sexual sin. But the culture is redefining what a sexual relationship should be like, he lamented.

“We’re redefining what is right and what is wrong,” he said. “God knew that we were going to live in a culture today just as many in that day were living in where we redefine what sin is, where we change the idea of what sin is so that we can make room for the things that we want to do,” the Virginia pastor said.

“It’s easy when we understand that adultery is wrong and fornication (any sexual relationship outside of the bonds of marriage) is wrong but if we can change the definition of fornication then we can open all kinds of doors and that is where we live today.”

He continued, “When we do that …. when we begin to make cases for and explain away what the Bible says, then we begin to destroy our very souls and the battlefield is raging and Satan is winning.”

Americans are split on whether homosexual behavior is a sin. According to LifeWay Research, which surveyed more than 2,000 Americans in September 2011, 44 percent say it is a sin and 43 percent disagree. Among born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, 82 percent call it a sin.

While exhorting the congregation to stand on the Word of God and be clear about what the Bible calls sin, Falwell urged caution.

“What is vitally important to understand is that while we stand on truth, we must speak the truth in the love of Jesus Christ,” he stressed. “There is no room in today’s culture and there better not be any room in the Church today to attack people who disagree with us. Rather, let them see the love of Jesus Christ in us.

“I will tell you this, that God loves homosexuals just as much as He loves Baptists. Jesus died on the cross for every single one of us.”

The message Christians should be spreading is about the gift of eternal life, he urged.

“Yes, the Bible does call sin sin but let me reveal to you through the Word of God not what God says ‘no’ to but rather what God gives us the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to and that is the incredible gift of God’s eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Here is the link to read the entire Christian Post article: “Jonathan Falwell: Culture Is Redefining What’s Right, Wrong

God’s Plan

I read about a young man who was determined to win the affections of a lady who refused to even talk to him anymore. He decided that the way to her heart was through the mail, so he began writing here love letters. He wrote a love letter everyday to this lady. Six, seven times a week she got a love letter from him. When she didn’t respond, he increased his output to three notes every twenty-four hours. In all, he wrote her more than seven hundred letters. And she ended up marrying the postman.

Our plans don’t always turn out the way we thought they would. We work so hard to get everything just the right way; nevertheless, things have a habit of going a different direction than we could have ever imagined. It can make life challenging or frustrating depending on your outlook.

I have found the best way to face the uncertainty of life is to trust my entire day to the Lord. Proverbs 16.3 says, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established,” and then He continues the thought in 16.9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” If I commit my entire day to the Lord by asking Him to guide my plans, thoughts, decisions, actions, and reactions then I find life less frustrating and more enjoyable. Situations still arise that are difficult to handle; however, because I have trusted them to the Lord I know that He is guiding me through them.

Lord, will You please guide our steps today. Let us seek You that we might recognize Your perfect plan for our day, and no matter what may come we live it for Your glory. Amen.