Photo courtesy of Google Images and elusivemagizne.com
“And let us consider how to stir up one another
to love and good works”
“Because we are members of His body” (Eph. 5:30), the men’s fellowship at First Independent Methodist Church enjoyed an amazing cookout. We converged on the home of Billy & Carol Mason on May 18th and shared in conversation while our brother Billy grilled most delicious hamburgers and hot dogs. We know that where two are three are gathered in His name, He is present. I am sure He enjoyed our fellowship as much as we did. We hope you will join us next time.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
From September 25-28, we held our first FIMC of Madison youth conference. Churches from all over Mississippi were invited to attend. Based on Jeremiah 1:5. When asking our youth pastor how he came upon the idea to have a conference, this was his reply: “I was in my office praying and just being quite. I felt the Lord was speaking to me about doing a conference. I was totally pumped! I have been waiting to do something like this, but didn’t want to just have one without the Lord having control of it. I was totally excited to gather young men to preach for the conference. Everything fell right in line with God’s will for this conference. The Lord made the path straight by bringing these men of God to preach, and lead worship for these four services.” Here are the message titles God laid on their hearts with our theme, On Purpose.
Josh Wilfong came all the way down from Fredericktown, MO to lead us in worship and WoW the Lord used him in a huge way. Playing his guitar and singing he did a magnificent job allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us with a heart ready for worship and the receiving of God’s Word. Thank you Josh!
Justin Sawyer of Hattiesburg, MS kicked it off for us Sunday the 25th. His message was titled Pursue Purpose. Using Jeremiah as a young person who felt he was too young for God’s purpose, Justin emphasized his point when he said, “Our life is not just looking for a purpose but in searching for it through Jesus Christ!
Ven Tripi Madison, MS reminded us in his message, Wake Up Your Purpose of the force behind our purpose. Using Ephesians 2:10 Ven reminded us to grow our focus in the purpose God has given us. Without growth the enemy will try to keep us from God’s purpose. Remember the enemy has been defeated and cannot keep us from God’s will and purpose. Pastor Ryan said this was one of the best sermons he’s heard in a long time.
Jake Korokis, Kosciusko, MS used the story of Daniel and the lions Den to teach us that Patience Has Purpose (Daniel 6:11KJV). Jake challenged our students like they have never been challenged before. The altar was full! God was moving in their hearts.
Ryan Sawyer, FIMC Youth Pastor, Madison, MS spoke Wednesday night on The Progress of Your Purpose” the whole idea of the message was to tell the students not the let the places they start dictate where they finish! Wednesday the altars were filled once again!
Fifteen youth accepted the challenges that were given. Several students have said this conference was a much needed blessing. “Kinda like going to church camp and getting fired up for the Lord,” one youth said. Another student sent me (Ryan) a text after the last night. He said “I want to seek his purpose for my life and follow it.” PTL
God is about to do some great things in the lives of our students. We are not going to stop until we see the Lord. The response to the conference has been a huge blessing! Most, if not all, asked if we were going to do this next year. The Answer is a resounding, “YES!” Pastor Ryan said he is already looking forward to it!
Josh was a true blessing. Worship was fantastic and was as important as the speakers. This conference had the Lord all over it; here’s why. The four preachers and the worship leader were given the theme, On Purpose. When the conference came to an end, the five discussed the services. It was amazing how God used each one to magnify and continue what the previous speaker had spoken on purpose. They didn’t plan it that way—God did. The Holy Spirit worked all the messages together, as one for the Lord’s purpose.
Can’t wait till next year!
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”
In Part 2 we discussed if we have a right to be afraid and should we stand against those who want to kill us. If we remember the fear David experienced while he was running for his life we understand that at times we do have fear in our lives. This is not God’s perfect will for us. His will is that we enjoy an abundant life. The way we receive this life is by living within His will. We know His will by His Word, the Bible. We also know His will by communing with him on a personal basis. Communion with Him is how we overcome Goliath when he tries to frighten us into submission. So this brings us to the last question. This is the same question David asked in Psalm 11:3, our premise for this series.
What can the righteous do?
While praying and searching over the last several months the Lord has placed several thoughts in my heart. I am excited! When these revelations hit me it was like a hand slap to the back of my head. These are nothing new. This is how every man of God in the Old and New Testaments defeated his Goliath. As Christians the following revelations are what we should be already be doing, everyday.
What a wake-up call. If we are not doing these things then we are not prepared for any Goliath, let alone this one. Search your heart and see if you are doing these things. I know there must be many more to add to this list. Feel free to add anything God lays on your heart.
We have been given permission, the freedom, the liberty, the ability to become, and the power to conquer.
We are fellow helper’s to the truth.
We are the vehicle the Lord uses to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation.
We find our peace, joy, comfort, guidance and direction through Him.
We are adopted children and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are justified by faith
Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness in everything we do and say.
He will reward us if we diligently seek Him.
We have our hope in Him.
This is not something we just say, it is something we must do. If this New Goliath comes against us there will be those, both saved and unsaved, who will need our comfort. Are you living your life in a way that these will feel comfortable approaching you?
As one evangelist has stated so bluntly, we do not have answered prayer because we are too lazy to pray consistently. Is this true in your life? We assure ourselves that we stand with the righteous. When we ask in prayer, we must ask in travailing prayer much as Jesus when sweat drops fell from his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is sincere prayer. This is not a head prayer, but a heart prayer.
A another wake up call: Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “But,” if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. It is of utmost importance that we understand this. People are dying and we may be their only last hope of salvation.
Remember these things:
Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
1 John 5:6-8: And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
Galatians 5:16-19 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
14. Give thanks in all things: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Notice, when evil men came against Daniel, he gave thanks as he had always done.
2 Timothy 1:9-10 Remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Ephesians 4:1 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
I mentioned at the beginning of Part 3, if you have any you would like to add please feel free to do so. There are so many! PTL
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea,
I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
In Part 1 of this series we discussed the Israelite’s and their fear of the Philistines who wanted to subject them to their will. We also discussed David, and the panic he encountered when chased by King Saul who wanted to kill him. You can find Part one here:
In 2013, there were some 2,100 Christians killed across the globe for their faith. In 2015 that number rose to at least 7,100(Not all ISIS). (3) In 2014 “ . . .the Islamic State (ISIS) . . . published a new edition of the propaganda booklet Dabiq, which is again signaling its primary enemy – Christianity. This “terror groups desire is to conquer Rome and ‘break the cross,’” This aspiration is much like that of the Philistine’s who stood in defiance of God and petrified the Israelite army. “Their goal is to pave the way for the appearance of their Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah.”(1) Just this morning ISIS has announced they will begin attacking London and Washington D.C.
I am by no means a theologian so I am not trying to go so deep that I lose both you and me. I only share what is in my heart, and in the hearts of those around me. I left you with the following questions:
Do we have right to be afraid? As did David, should we stand against those who want to kill us?
“The Philistines were mentioned in the Bible as far back as the time when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the nation of Israel for hundreds of years. When the Israelite’s had finally settled into Canaan, they had to contend with the Philistines.
These two nations constantly fought. One of the major reasons as to why the Philistines and the Israelite’s constantly have strife with one another is because of their religious beliefs. The Philistines primarily believed in Dagon (god of fertility) and the Israelite’s believed in Yahweh, or God. These two gods were nothing alike and this religious difference played out in the lives of the Philistines and the Israelite’s in forming their cultures and shaping their lives.
Another major reason as to why the Philistines resented the Israelite’s is because they had conquered so many people when they entered into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership. The Philistines were a powerful and warlike people, and they didn’t like the idea of having the Israelite’s being strong. So they constantly challenged the strength of Israel and many times they wanted to subject them to their rule to prove they were better. God also let the Philistines remain in the land to test and punish the Israelite’s whenever they strayed away from worshiping him. The Philistines defeated the Israelite armies on many occasions and they even managed to get some of the people to turn away from worshiping Yahweh.” (2)
America has been a strong nation over the past 240 years. Our strength was formed on the foundation of Christianity. Those who hate us are challenging its very foundation. We see around the world Christians being beheaded and killed in other ways. They desire to come to America, and are already here in small cells preparing to attack when they feel it is time. This is our New Goliath.
When I ask if we have a right to be afraid, my answer is this: My first inclination is to say, “YES” we have a right to be afraid. Of course we do. I believe most of us would agree this would be our first thought. We are human after all. We defend our fear by saying God created us with this innate characteristic to protect ourselves from harm. It is part of our human nature. If we see a tornado headed out way our emotion is to get to safety and protect ourselves. If someone wants to hurt our children we immediately run to their protection. Fear is a part of human nature. When Goliath comes for us are we to be afraid? When this huge enemy comes against the foundations of our world are we to grow fearful of what will come?
If you are old enough, do you remember the days of uncertainty; post WW2, in the 1950’s and 1960’s when everyone was building bomb shelters? We had atomic bomb drills in school. When the alarm sounded we immediately climbed under our desk, folded up into a ball and waited for the end of the world. Children were genuinely afraid and were relieved when the alarm sounded a second time to tell us to go back to learning. We were preparing ourselves for war.
God did give us the emotion of fear as a protection of ourselves. But he does not want us to succumb to our fear. When you read His Word He has promised to support us, therefore, there is no reason to fear. We must trust that promise. Yet, walking into a theater we wonder if someone would enter the theater with a gun and start shooting people. These thoughts do cross our mind. We cannot stop these things from happening if we do not know they are coming. The only thing we can do is to submit our fears to God for Him to protect and support should fears become reality.
Like David, if we did not have a human nature of fear we would not need these passages to remind us. The key is to overcome this mortal nature with one of a spiritual walk with out God. The Bible is full of passages where we are instructed to have no fear. In fact there are so many I struggle to decide which ones to use. We all agree with these. I believe most of you are like me in that while we agree with these scriptures we do so with a disingenuous heart simply because we have never had anything, or anyone really stand against us and threaten our lives. This New Goliath is now beginning to do just that.
Through out the Word of God we are given example after example of how to handle fear. These examples have ONE thing in common, they trusted God. I imagine Abraham had fear sparked in his heart when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. His fear was quelled by his faith in God. Daniel was thrown into a den of hungry lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. Elijah was deathly afraid of Jezebel, who threatened to kill him, so he ran. Each of these men were challenged by their own Goliath. Paul and Peter were thrown in jail for their faith and their lives were threatened. Stephen was a layman just like you and I. He was stoned and killed for his faith. Even in death God is faithful to His promises and delivered each of these men.
And fear not them which kill the body,
but are not able to kill the soul:
but rather fear him which is able
to destroy both soul and body in hell.
We have a hard time understanding what it means to rely on God and put our trust in him. This is why so many gloss over the scriptures that tell us “do not fear.” We battle within our hearts with what it means to not fear when the foundation of our world is crumbling. We struggle with allowing God to be in control.
All scripture is inspired by God were written for our benefit. They are God’s Word for us to place in our heart and develop a faith in His security. Instead so many of us do not embed these assurances and move forward in our own strength. When we lose sight of these promises, our worries build an intense scenario that does not exist in God’s Word. When we apply the Word of God daily He will ensure our safety.
We need to learn from Job; he had a fence around him so high satan could not penetrate it. How did he have that hedge of protection? Through prayer, worship and obedience to God. How can we build this hedge for our family and ourselves? One prayer is the first brick. Another prayer is another brick on top of that one. Worship is another brick. Obedience is still another on top of these. If in our lives, if we are constantly laying brick, we begin to realize that we are building the same hedge of protection around ourselves, and our family. Our confidence grows and our fears diminish. In this way we begin to see that when we take God at his Word and do not fear, we are growing in the same confidence, the same boldness the saints of old demonstrated in their lives.
God is faithful to his Word. When we develop our hearts and minds to capture God’s strength we learn to depend on Him and His Word. When we have our confidence in Him, we do not have to fear. We know that this Goliath is only one of many that will be defeated by the Almighty.
The key is to grow in confidence by FOLLOWING. We prepare for battle in the same way those saints before us have done; we allow God to lead. . . . . .“we follow”. It’s that simple. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). This is how we prepare to meet Goliath. When we follow after God’s lead, “. . .the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp” (Job 11:20).
Do we have the “right” to be afraid? This is a difficult question. With God’s commands to not be fearful, no, we do not have a “right.” Nevertheless, we have the natural anxiety of fear, which God gave us. But it is not a right. We are to cast away our fears and depend upon God’s protection. When we practice these things in our lives we grow in boldness and the confidence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The same blood that got us in, keeps us in. In other words, the same blood that provided us with mercy and salvation when we first met our Lord continues to provide us with mercy and salvation. Like the saints of the Old and New Testaments We must trust in Him.
In Part 3 I will address the question: What can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Jeremiah was a young lad when God approached him. He felt he was too young to accept the work God had planned for him (Jeremiah 1:6). He became a mighty prophet. I get excited when I see the Lord working among the youth of our day. We have had several young men and women give there heart to God in the past year. Our youth group has had as many as 50+ on Wednesday evenings. God is working, and will continue to work if we passionately honor Him, and fervently pray over our children and youth.
One night in the month of April Tyler Creswell approached his Dad and step-mom and asked what he had to do to be saved. He had been thinking about it for a while, and was ready to give his heart to Lord. Pastor Doug was called; he arrived and discussed Tyler’s decision; Tyler gave his heart totally to God right there in his living room. Praise God! The next week Tyler stood before the Church body and shared his salvation with us. Sunday, May 1st, we were also honored to witness Tyler’s baptism.
Let’s pray that young men and women like Tyler will be moved by the Holy Spirit and become mighty warriors for the Gospel.
“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men,
him shall the Son of man also confess
before the angels of God:” Luke 12:8
Beth Scarbrough was driving home from the Wednesday night service when she pulled over to the side of the road and started crying. The Holy Spirit had been tugging at her heart and she knew it was time to repent and ask God’s forgiveness. She didn’t wait until the next time she went to church; no, she turned around in the middle of Highway 51 and drove back. She went right in and told Brother Doug what had happened and he introduced her to Jesus that very night. WoW! What a testimony of the faith. Beth was baptized on May 1st as well. Welcome to the family Beth.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men,
him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”