Hope

PeteLast night I received a call from a friend of mine who attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She told me that God wanted her to share with me her testimony that she believes God is real, Jesus is the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit is present among us and He put on her heart to let me know that my prayers have been received.  WOW!  I mean, WOW!!  God is redeeming His people!

I share this because the conversation brought me to tears, and that there is Hope.  All too often we dismiss those of other faiths, or those within our own, as lost with no true salvation.  Last fall I was sharing with a gentleman my prison/jail ministry, and out of the blue he told me that Jesus had saved him from addiction and homosexuality.  He is currently three plus years clean, sober and bondage free.

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Be Fruitful

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any.  Cut it down!  Why should it use up the soil?’  ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine!  If not, then cut it down.’"  Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)

  • A person, God Almighty
  • Had a fig tree - the Jewish Church
  • Planted in his vineyard - established in the land of Judea
  • He came seeking fruit - he required that the Jewish people should walk in righteousness, in proportion to the spiritual culture he bestowed on them.
  • The vine-dresser - the Lord Jesus, for God hath committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22)
  • Cut it down - let the Roman sword be unsheathed against it.
  • Let it alone - Christ is represented as intercessor for sinners, for whose sake the day of their probation is often lengthened; during which time he is constantly employed in doing everything that has a tendency to promote their salvation.
  • Thou shalt cut it down - a time will come when those who have not turned at God's invitations and reproofs shall be cut off, and numbered with the transgressors.

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Serving

During my reunion group meeting this week, yes, some of us still have them, a conversation went down a road about how rich a particular family was and how they could do all kinds of great things.  I, being he who I am, asked “Do you know if they are going to Heaven or hell?"  The response was “That’s not up to us.  It’s between them and the Lord.”  Disappointment fell on my heart.  Have we a group of Christ professing men basically saying we are not responsible for others.

Charles Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies.  And if they perish let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay.  If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for."

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This Sermon's for the Birds

We have five bird feeders outside the bay window that faces the back of our property, and many times a day we watch the birds for entertainment.  I say this as a prelude to the following.  I usually pray about a particular scripture and rely on the Holy Spirit to deliver a sermon for Sunday morning.

Yesterday’s (12/15/19) sermon was taken from John chapter one.  As I prayed about it, a vision came to me about a little red bird hitting the bay window, falling to the ground, and lying on the ground dead.  I picked up the bird and placed it in a small box with the intent of disposing of it later.  When that later time came, I opened the box, removed the bird to lay it in the field and let nature take care of it.  While holding the bird, I was distracted by something, and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a slight flicker.  I focused on the bird and it stirred and flew away.  I immediately realized that I had to include the ascension of our Lord, Acts 1: 9-11, in the sermon.  You see, everyone was looking forward to the arrival of the Messiah.  He came, was rejected, died on the cross, was resurrected, and ascended into Heaven to come again.

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Kukla, Fran, and Allah

First, I would like to thank you for the Gift Card to Brothers BBQ for Pastor Appreciation Day.  You have been most generous in my ministry.  Thank you!

The Great Banquet has been successful again this fall with many being touched by God and his servants.  Praise the Lord!  One of those weekends was the Ladies GB Weekend at the Hopkins County Jail.  It was well received and ran smoothly, despite a few hiccups and stumbling blocks.  The residents didn’t have a clue that somethings had to be rearranged as adjustments were made flawlessly.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie was an early American television show using puppets.  It was created for children, but was soon watched by more adults than children.  It did not have a script and was entirely ad-libbed.  It was broadcast from 1947 to 1957.  If you don’t know about Allah you should come to church more often.

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Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die

I shared this with residents at the jail last week.

The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament.  It expresses the true essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ.  Dying to self is part of being born again; the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7).  Not only are Christians born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification.  As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process.

Jesus spoke repeatedly to His disciples about taking up their cross (an instrument of death) and following Him.  He made it clear that if any would follow Him, they must deny themselves, which means giving up their lives—spiritually, symbolically, and even physically, if necessary.  This was a prerequisite for being a follower of Christ, who proclaimed that trying to save our earthly lives would result in losing our lives in the kingdom.  But those who would give up their lives for His sake would find eternal life (Matthew 16:24–25; Mark 8:34–35).  Indeed, Jesus even went so far as to say that those who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for Him cannot be His disciples (Luke 14:27).

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Thank You! Thank You!

To those of you who prayed for, over, and with Peggy and me, thank you.  To those of you who visited, fed, sent well wishes, and all the wonderful things you have done, thank you.  This adventure of Peggy’s cancer and God’s Glory, Power, and Might has taught me to trust God more and man less.  It has reminded me to embrace the moment and praise the Almighty God for each and every blessing.  It has enlightened me to focus on what is truly important and discard the chaff.  These past weeks God has placed some old forgotten friends in my company, and I have been reminded that "the believers gathered together, devoted to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and  prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe and many wonders and miraculous signs were done."  (Acts 2:42)  Looking forward to continued miracles.

On the Inside,

Pete