The Disciple that we arguably know the most about is Peter. Peter was initially introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew. But, Peter at that point wasn’t known as Peter, but was known as Simon. Jesus in that initial introduction gave him the nickname of Peter or Cephas, which is that of a rock. Jesus obviously knew the potential of him and spoke words that would affirm that potential of what Peter could become.
But, the journey to living up to that name and of becoming the person that the Lord wanted him to be was filled with ups and downs. It was a journey. It didn’t happen overnight. It’s the same with us. Growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s takes time. It takes going through some good experiences and difficult experiences. There are moments when we get it right and moments when we get it wrong, just like Peter.
We pick up Peter's journey at the point in which he denies Jesus three times. And as we think about Peter’s journey, let us listen and learn and ponder our own journey with the Lord.
1)Peter wept Luke 22:60-62
His heart was broken over failure! Is your heart grieved when you sin against the Lord? Do you love Jesus that much?
2)Peter ran John 20:3-9
He ran to the tomb with confusion and with some hope. Optimism began to fill his heart again. God is the God of hope and God wants us to run with hope!
3)Peter saw Jesus (many times) 1 Cor. 15:3-6; Luke 24:33-34
Nobody is recorded as seeing the resurrected Jesus more times than Peter! Isn't that remarkable?! The disciple who denied Jesus was given the opportunity to see Jesus resurrected more than the rest! Our Lord is good and gracious! Peter surely got right with the Lord and was forgiven in that first encounter with Jesus on Easter Sunday! We can be cleansed and renewed as well!
4)Peter was restored and reaffirmed John 21:14-19
Jesus predicted that one day in the future Peter would indeed die for Jesus. Peter learned and grew. You and I fail at times, but we must get back up, be humble and teachable, and keep learning and growing.
5)Peter was filled Acts 1:13, 14, 2:4
Peter was one of the ones who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost! Jesus wants each of His followers to be filled and to keep being filled with the Spirit.
Wherever you are on your journey with Jesus, love Him wholeheartedly, trust in His heart, get cleansed and renewed, keep learning and growing, and go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit. He knows your potenital and has plans for you. The journey sometimes is rough, but how wonderful to know Jesus, to walk with Jesus and to bear His name and to be about His kingdom work! Keep folllowing Jesus!
The songs declare to us that Christmas should be the happiest, most joyful, wonderful time of the year. I certainly hope that you have joy this Christmas season. But, for most, Christmas brings extra stresses and pressures, which can lead to some trying moments in our relationships. I want to encourage you to be a person of forgiveness this Christmas season.
Here are a few verses to ponder:
Dear church family and friends,
Every year our deacons with your support blesses a number of families through Christmas baskets. The last few years we've encouraged you to bring these to one of the first two Sunday's in December wrapped in white as a way of dedicating them to the Lord. The Bible has a lot to say about helping the poor and needy. This coming Sunday is our last Sunday before the deacons will deliver these gifts (so far we've received very little, but I assume that'll change this Sunday). We give so many gifts at Christmas time and this one is so important. Please join in and support the needy families by bringing White Christmas gifts this coming Sunday!
Of course, you know my heart to do our part in supporting our missionaries as they share the gospel all over the world. We've raised our goal to $4850 because that is the amount it takes to support one of our IMB missionaries for one month! Please sacrificially give to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering and support them in prayer also. This week is the week of prayer! Resources can be found at Lottie Moon Week of Prayer - International Mission Board
Additionally, this Sunday at 10:45am our worship choir will lead out in the cantata "Bringing Christmas Home." Here's a great opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, relatives and inactive church members and I hope you'll do so and if you're on Facebook, please share the promotional info found on the WBC page.
Lastly, our December 14th, we will have our Wooster Family Christmas event called: A Night in Bethlehem. This is for the whole family and will involve costumes and will be a real blessed event that you'll want to join in on (6-8pm). Please pray for our workers and for the Lord's hand to be upon this event.
Thank you for prayerfully considering these matters. Let's have a great week and shine the Light of Christ!
For His Glory,
Good is so good to us. We need and must praise Him!
We have ventured out this year to expand our food pantry ministry. Before doing so, we talked about it for a while. And for a time, we put it on the back burner. Then, we had a few meetings about it and we certainly had thoughts and questions and a few more questions. A few went and observed a sister church's food pantry ministry and gained valuable information from them as well. We answered some of our questions and decided it was time to move forward. We went forward knowing that we'd learn 'on the job' and that we'd make adjustments along the way. We are only a few months into this expanded food ministry, but already we have doubled the amount of people we were helping previously. Each person who comes for food is interviewed in which the gospel is shared and prayer is offered for whatever they are facing in life.
One of the questions we previously had dealt with where the food or monies for food would come from?! We believed that God would provide since He was leading us to expand this ministry. God has been providing!!!
One fellow from the community that we hadn't met previously brings in some vegetables and some eggs. We've recieved food from community sources and recently recieved box after box of food.
And less than two weeks ago, our office received a call asking if we'd like some Jennie O food? We don't normally have perishable food. The truck driver explained that the boxes had been crushed and they had to get rid of them. We agreed that they could bring them to us!
All of this to say: praise the Lord for His provisions so that we can minister to people in His name. Praise Him with us. Help us by letting people in Baytown know that are here to help them. Be encouraged that if you'll follow His leading and venture out in faith, He'll provide and use you.
This past Sunday we did something unusual at WBC. We had an Astros' Support Sunday. The people were encouraged to wear their Astros' gear for Bible study and worship and to stay for a potluck and an open gym to follow. We even heard a baseball-themed sermon from our assoicate pastor to students, Derrick Wade. He challenged the people to get onto the Lord's team rather than being a spectator. He also challenged us to move from being a bench warmer to being a home-run hitter for the Lord. He spoke about the discipline that is needed and the need for practicing and putting in the effort and winning people for Christ. As he concluded his sermon, we were asked: Which one are you?
It's a question all of us need to prayerfully consider. How about you? Are you a spectator needing to get onto the Lord's team? Are you a bench warmer needing to put in the effort to get off the bench? Or are you a home-run hitter for the Lord working hard to impact lives for Christ? Even though I am still sore from the open gym time, it was a wonderful Sunday.
Blessings to you,
"The Unspeakable Gift"
II Corinthians 9:15
Approximately one month seperate the holidays of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. There is a very definite relationship between the two as pointed out by the Apostle Paul in our text: "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
Thanksgiving Day is a time when we are reminded anew to give thanks unto God for all our blessings. Christmas Day is a time of exchanging gifts, but more than that it is a the day we celebrate the giving of the greatest Gift the world will ever know--- God's gift of His Son to be the Saviour of the world! This is the Gift Paul is giving thanks for, and the Gift that the world must ever give thanks for--- Jesus Christ!
God sent His angels to the shepherds to first announce His Gift: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11).
In our traditional exchange of gifts, let us not forget that the greatest Gift ever offered was the Gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The celebration of His birthday should be a time of thanksgiving for this great and unspeakable Gift.
Why should God make such a gift to us? Do we deserve this great Gift? Was God indebted to us? Did mankind have some claim on God that would make Him have to give us His Son? The answer is "no" for God did not have to make mankind this gift. In fact man does not deserve this gift of salvation in Christ. We have rebelled against God, broken His law, forgotten His Word, and sinned against Him. The penalty for sin is death. The Bible says, "The wages of sin is death." Since all are sinners (Romans 3:23) all of us deserve death. Thus, God's gift is not based on our worthiness or our merit, but on His grace.
He have because He loved us. "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). We are the recipients of His love and grace in spite of our unloveliness and unworthiness.
This gift cannot be earned. Our good works can never build up enough merit to where God is obligated to give it to us. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works." (Ephesians 2:8-9). Real gifts are never made out of obligation, but out of love. God gives us His Son because He loves us and wants us to be redeemed from our sins. Before Jesus was born an angel revealed to the perplexed young Joseph, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."
God the Father sent His Son to redeem mankind from their sins. He sent Jesus to bear the cross of death in our place. Because God loved us and didn't want us to die for our sins He let His Son die for our sins.
How do you receive this greatest of all gifts? God's Word teaches us that it is by faith. We realize that we are a sinner needing salvation from the death penalty of sin. We repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness, believing that Jesus can and will save us. In that moment we receive Christ by faith, we are saved and thus the greatest of all possible gifts is bestowed on us.
Have you received this greatest of all gifts? Millions haven't. Can you imagine how you would feel if you gave someone the greatest possible gift available and that person turned their back on you and refused to accept that gift? This is in some measure, how God feels this Christmas season. God's gift is refused and we continue in our sins (no room in the inn). Possibly some of you reading this [newspaper] have never accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. Will you at this moment repent of your sins and receive Christ as your Saviour, and receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas season? God offers this gift to all. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:13).
God offers this gift to all, but He does not force anyone to receive it. The receiving of the gift is up to you. God wants you to have it but He'll not force it upon you against your will. If somone offered you a gift of a milliion dollars you would take it. God is offering you countless more than a million dollars, He is offering you eternal life in Christ. Accept this "unspeakable gift" today and join the Apostle Paul in giving thanks to God the Donor.
"If Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, until He's born in me, my soul is all forlorn."
By Rev. Harvey Neal (while pastor of First Baptist Church).
It was a Monday. I was rushed to get out the door and to get my son early to school so he could make up some Math work. I decided with my rushed time that all I could do in terms of a ‘quiet time’ was to read a devotional and then later do something much more substantial.
In my rushed state of affairs, I enlisted my son to help me with a few odds and ends so we could leave on time. He helped me make my morning breakfast smoothie. It was all together, and I instructed him to do the blending. Well, let’s just say that it wasn’t done correctly and we had a mess and not much of a smoothie. I did what I could at making something out of a mess and off we went.
Yes, I was annoyed, but what was done was done. As we drove in the drizzling rain, I remembered that I had forgotten to bring my daily Bible reading Bible! We spoke about his math work and I dropped him off on time. As I was making my way to the office, I was still annoyed and still lacking in a ‘real’ quiet time.
I came to a stop light and saw the greatest rainbow that I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve not seen one quite like that one before. I took a quick picture, which doesn’t do it justice, and was reminded of those “exceeding great and precious promises” of the Lord (2 Peter 1:4).
I went to my study and started to read in the place where I would be had I had brought my daily reading Bible. I found these words in Lamentations 3:21-24:
"This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”
Thank the Lord for His promises of everlasting love and mercy, for filling us with hope, and having compassion on us, even on Mondays when it doesn’t start off so smoothly. He is the God of fresh starts. Look to Him and to His promises and may you and I both find strength, hope and renewal this day.
Blessings to you all,