Oct 14

Easier to Preach 10 Than to Live 1

As a pastor, I routinely preach how we are to love God more than anyone and anything else in our life, and how that will call us to also love others.  One proof that we love God the way we should is that we will love others enough to share the Gospel with them.  I routinely preach how there is no greater need that a person has than their need for salvation.  I stand behind all of those statements, because they are biblical statements.  However, today was a reminder that it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out.  James 1:22 says, “Be a doer of the word and not a hearer only, deceiving yourselves.”  Romans 12:19-21 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.  Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  I admit that I have preached on those verses multiple times throughout my ministry.  Yet, today was a rough reminder that I have such a long way to go because it is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live just one sermon out.  I could make a lot of excuses, I could tell others all that occurred and many would be on my side. However, the bottom line is that God was not glorified in how I handled a situation. I  have to admit that just typing that last sentence out brought such a heavy weight crashing down on me.  Yet, there is no one to blame but me.

I believe those called into leadership are held to a higher standard by God.  I believe we are called to live to those standards that we routinely preach about.  However, today reminded me that although I am a child of God who has been saved by His grace, inside of me is a sin nature at war with the Holy Spirit of God who lives in me.  Today, I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s predicament when he said, “the things I shouldn’t do, those are the things I do; and the things that I should do, those are the things that I don’t do.  O wretched man that I am, who can save me from this?”

Have you ever been there?  Do you understand what I’m feeling?  I think most Christians have been at some time or another.  In those difficult moments, when it is obvious that you chose to allow your sin nature to win out over the new nature given to us by Christ, what are we to do?  I will tell you what we can’t do.  We can’t wallow in it, because that is what satan wants us to do.  He is the author of shame and guilt, not God.  So then, what do we do?  I think the first thing we need to do is allow this to remind us of our need for Jesus.  If we could remember everything, perfectly obey in everything ,and behave perfectly in everything, then Jesus would have died in vain.  There would have been no point in Jesus’ death, if we could be good enough.  But God knew we could never be good enough.  He knew that even on days when we are obedient to Him and His Word that there is still sin in our lives.  That is the reason that Jesus came to die on the cross.  He who was good enough to appease God’s wrath died in the place of those who could never be good enough.  Allow this truth to wash over you, and allow you to praise God for His grace.  It doesn’t mean that we have a license to sin.  When we sin, our hearts should break over our sin, because God’s heart breaks over our sin.  Yet, we need to remember that where sin did abound, grace much more abounds we are told in Romans 5.  Second, we need to confess our sin.  To confess means to agree with God that what we said, did, or thought was wrong.  We don’t need to try and sweep it under the rug, or pretend that it didn’t happen.  We need to own it, confess it, and then seek God’s help to learn from it and grow from it.  That’s the final thing, we need to repent.  To repent means to turn around, to go the other way.  We can never repent apart from God and His help.  Repentance is something that the Holy Spirit does in our heart and in our lives.  So we need to cry out to Jesus for help.

It’s ok to feel guilt over our sin, we should feel it in fact. However, we can’t live there.  We must look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  We must confess our sin, forsake it, and seek God’s help to grow from it. Days like today make me appreciate God’s amazing grace that saved a wretch like me.  But it also gives me hope, that if God can save someone like me, then He can certainly save you.  You simply need to admit your sin and surrender to His grace.  If you aren’t sure how to or you want to, please reach out to us here at Westlake Baptist.  We would love the privilege of telling you how you can have the greatest relationship anyone could ever have.  You can reach us at westlakebc@gmail.com.  Thank you Jesus for saving a sinner such as me!

Pastor Justin

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Oct 08

A Ghost Story

The pendulum swung faster and faster, as I asked it questions.  At times, I felt as if the pendulum was going to pull my arm down to the table.  My dad was impressed with the fact that the Kreskin’s ESP game would answer my questions, especially since I was only nine.  Yes/no questions and spell out an answer for me were the types of questions I would ask it.

Along with using the Kreskin’s ESP game, my parents sometimes would have a lady come to the house and pull out tarot cards.  I heard my parents ask the lady various questions about the future and this lady would start laying the tarot cards on the table and answer their questions.

Growing up, I had experienced some strange and eerie events in that house.  One night, I woke up and saw a ghost-like woman floating above me.  I thought I was seeing things so I pulled the covers over my head and waited for a couple minutes.  When I pulled the covers back, she was still there.  I was afraid to move but I again pulled the covers over my head.  When I pulled the covers back she was gone.  Over the years, my parents and other adults talked about seeing things in the house.

Going down into the basement was an adventure too.  I hated to go down to the basement by myself. Whether I went by myself or with someone else, I would sometimes sense there was someone there but there wasn’t. When I got older, my dad shared with me that he also felt that presence sometimes, when he was down in the basement late at night.

These experiences drove me to find out why these things happened. In my search, I found out that my grandparents had built the house and that my parents had bought the house off my grandparents.   Other relatives told me that while my grandparents had owned the house, nothing strange happened.  It was only after my parents had bought it that strange things started happening.

My answer didn’t come until I became a Christian and searched for answers in the Bible.  God, in Deut 18:9-14, commanded the Israelites not to do or teach others to do the abominations of the other nations.  He told them not to perform human sacrifices of their children, go to fortune-tellers, trust in the constellations (like we do with horoscopes,) cast spells, go to or become a witch or wizard, or conduct a séance to contact the dead or have someone perform a séance to contact the dead for them.

God said all these things are an abomination to Him.  It means that it is disgusting and repugnant to Him. The Israelites were to possess the land God had given them and worship Jehovah God, the one and only true God, without doing as the other nations did.

In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul asks a woman at Endor to contact the prophet Samuel, who had died.   While she was trying to contact the dead, she cried out and said, “I saw gods ascending out of the earth.”

She was literally saying I saw a godlike one coming out of the ground. In other words, she had contacted demons and they were communicating with her.  She went on to tell him that he and his sons were going to be killed in battle.  This was the price God required of Samuel for his disobedience.

I realized that what I and others experienced in the house I grew up in was demonic.  By using the Kreskin’s ESP game, tarot cards, Ouija boards, and other similar things, the door to demonic forces were opened and supernatural and unwanted events occurred.

God told the Israelites to stay away from such things and Christians should heed that warning as well.  Christians have no business messing with anything that is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.  Let’s not trust in demonic forces but in the one who is all powerful.  Jesus Christ is the only one we need and He is the one that has all the answers.  Don’t turn to fortune-telling.  Instead, turn to God.

Pastor Harry

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Oct 01

The Thin Line Between Genius and Goat

As I was driving this morning, I was listening to the radio.  In this instance, I was listening to Fox Sports Radio, and listening to some recaps of some football games yesterday.  The host talked about two specific games, in which there was a somewhat similar situation in each game, but the outcome was a different.  In one game, the coach gambled on fourth down, went for it, made it, and the team scored the winning touchdown.  In the other game, the coach gambled on fourth down, didn’t make it, and as a result his team went on to lose the game.  I will admit a few things.  First, I didn’t see either game.  Second, the situations were similar, but not identical.  However, it illustrates the title of this blog.  There is a thin line between genius and goat.  If you gamble and it pays off, then they talk about you as being gutsy, smart, and a winner.  However, if you gamble and it doesn’t pay off then you are a buffoon, a guy who doesn’t understand the game, etc.  But what this really illustrates is this, if you live by the praise of man then you will also die by the lack of praise by man.  One thing that Diana and I try to tell our children over and over is this, know who you are in Jesus, and live to please Him.  We in this country have an epidemic of people-pleasers. Whether it is in politics, sports, movies, or school-aged children.  As a result of this epidemic, mental illness, negative self-esteem, and even suicide find their ways into our headlines on an almost daily basis.  There has to be a better way!

I believe Scripture gives us that better way.  The apostle Paul in writing his final instructions to the church in Ephesus, deals with a lot of topics.  Towards the end of the book of Ephesians, Paul talks a lot about the family.  Then we see Paul drop this nugget on the Ephesians in Ephesians 6, “not serving when eyes are on you, but as pleasing men as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing any man does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is enslaved or free” (Eph. 6:6-8).  Paul here is talking about who we as Christians should strive to please.  We should do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, because we want to please God.  In order to do this, we must first know who we are in Jesus.  If we are going to break this negative cycle of people-pleasing, we must be confident in our relationship with Jesus.  We must know what He says about us.  We must care more about what Jesus says about us than what man says about us.  Then, we must make up our minds to strive to please God, even if that means other people won’t agree with us or like us.

Do you know who you are in Christ?  Do you seek His glory and to please Him, or do you find yourself on the constant merry-g0-round of trying to make others happy?  If you’re not sure who you are in Jesus, reach out to a trusted Christian friend or your pastor.  Allow them to share some Bible passages for you to read to remind you of who you are, and how you can live for the glory of God and to please Him in all that you do.  With the world, their opinion of you can change by the day.  But what God says about you, never changes.  So anchor yourself in Him and His Word.

Pastor Justin

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Sep 23

Sermon Outline from 1 Cor. 12

Sometimes the Lord just wants to move and speak in a different way than was planned.  Certainly this morning was one of those times.  Therefore, as promised, here is the outline that was used for the sermon, T.E.A.M.  The podcast will be available in iTunes a little later today.

To Remain Unified We Must Remember:

  • The Gospel gives unity to the church (vv. 12-13).
  • The church is bigger than one person (v. 14).
  • Everyone is needed in the church (vv. 15-17).

Application:

  • Become part of the team. We started this morning by saying, the most important number in this text was the number one.  There is one body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one baptism.  Well, there is another important number one, that is, there is only one way to be saved.  Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.”  Then in Ephesians 2:8-9 it says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, not of yourself, it is the free gift of God; not of works, so that no one can boast.”
  • Show love and appreciation to each other. Remember, Jesus said how the world will know we love Him and belong to Him is by how we treat each other.  We must treats others as though they matter more to us than we matter to us.  If someone misses a Sunday, call them, text them, or visit them. Send them a card on their birthday.  If you know they are struggling, go spend some time with them.
  • Do your part. Nothing will bring the morale on a team down further than finger pointing and blaming others for the poor performance of the team.  In the same way, nothing defames the Gospel like church members who talk about each other in a negative way.  If you have time to talk about someone else, there is a good chance that you aren’t doing what you are supposed to.  At the end of the day, you are hurting the team more than someone who may not be doing the best job at something in the church. The cure for this is for you to know your spiritual gift, and then focus on using it for the glory of God and the good of the church.  If you don’t know what your spiritual gifting is, please see me after service.  I would love to be able to help you discover it, and begin using it. In fact, we need you.  The church won’t become all we are to be until we are all doing what we have been called to do.

May the Lord use His people for His glory, the salvation of the lost, and the building up of His church.

Pastor Justin

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Sep 12

Jacob deGrom and Evangelism

Unless you are a New York Mets fan or a baseball fan in general, you have probably never heard of Jacob deGrom.  Yet last night, he broke a record that had stood for over 100 years.  Yet, there was very little reason to celebrate.  Each year in baseball, Major League Baseball  awards a specific award to a pitcher in each the American League and the National League.  The award is call the CY Young Award.  It is typically given to the best pitcher in each league.  However, that will most likely not be the case in the National League this year.  That is because according to most stats, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League.  However, he is on one of the worst teams in all of baseball.  Last night, deGrom broke the record for the most quality starts for a pitcher.  A quality start is considered to happen when a pitcher pitches at least six innings in a game and gives up less than three earned runs in that time.  As a former pitcher I have to say that is amazing.  But rather than being able to celebrate this historic feat, deGrom had to watch his team waste another great outing of his as the Mets lost the game.  For what it’s worth (which is very little honestly), I think deGrom should absolutely be given strong consideration for the CY Young Award even though his wins-losses record isn’t as good as some other pitchers.  He has done over the course of the year everything he could to help his team win.  Maybe you are wondering, what does this have to do with Christianity or evangelism?  It actually perfectly illustrates evangelism and salvation.

Jacob deGrom is one player on a Major League Baseball team.  He pitches every fifth game, but he is only one player out of nine in games that he pitches.  All he can do is give his best, and put his team in the best position possible to win the game.  In the same way, all you and I can do when it comes to sharing the Gospel is share the Gospel.  No amount of eloquent speech, charisma, or a flawless Gospel presentation can guarantee that the person places their faith in Jesus.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility.  Romans 10:13-15 clearly says that God has sent us to preach the Gospel, and as we do God has promised to save some.  But we aren’t in control of how many people surrender their lives to the grace of God and place all their faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.  All we can do is pray before we share the Gospel, share the Gospel, and pray after we have shared the Gospel.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3, he planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gives the increase.

We can’t save a person, but we can certainly tell them how they can be saved.  Let us remember Jesus’ words in Luke 10, “see that the fields are white for harvest.  Pray that the Lord would send forth more laborers.”  Each day, pray that you would be obedient to share the Gospel and pray for other Christians you know to be obedient in sharing the Gospel as well.  Then pray that God would soften the hearts of those who will hear the Gospel that day, that they may surrender to God’s grace and be saved.

Pastor Justin

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Aug 23

A Worthy Life

Today’s devotion comes from a guest blogger, one of WBC’s own, Pastor Harry Martin.  Harry and his wife, Pam, are a welcomed addition to our WBC family, and they are certainly a blessing.  On top of being a church member here at WBC, attending Bible classes, writing blogs, and leading our G.R.O.W. ministry, Harry also runs a local jail ministry.  We pray these words will encourage you in your walk with God.

Our fast-paced society has us scrambling from one activity to another. We go to work to feed our family, buy nice things, go on fancy vacations, allow our kids to take part in sports and other activities, and send our children to college.  From the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed, we are busy doing something.  Before we realize it, years pass and we wonder where it all went.  When the time comes and our life draws to a close, how can we make sure the life we lived is filled with joy and happiness and not with missed opportunities and regret?

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”    This means to live our lives in a way that is worthy of the call to salvation and the benefits thereof.

To live a worthy life, one must first have the Lord in his or her life. No matter how much money or possessions a person accumulates, there will always be an empty feeling until sin is dealt with.  The Bible tells us, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Because of our sin, we are separated from God. “For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Notice the second part of the last verse. Eternal life is a gift from God.  This gift is completely free to us but it cost God everything.  God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be the ultimate sacrifice for us.  His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection paid for our sins and allows us to go to heaven.  All we need to do is accept God’s free gift, His Son.

Secondly, a person that lives a worthy life will make Christ the Lord of his or her life.  This means to put God first in our lives.  It is no longer what we want but what God wants for our lives.  Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”  This passage tells us, when we put God first, He will provide for our needs and will guide us in the direction we need to go.  So many times we want to control our lives. We decide what job we take, who we marry, and what house and other possessions we buy.  When we do this, we live for ourselves and make a mess out of our lives.  On the other hand, when God is first in our lives, material possessions do not matter and our lives are full of joy and happiness because God leads us, takes care of our needs, and gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Finally, a worthy life is one of humility and patience.  Ephesians 4:2 says, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”  A person surrendered to God will humbly serve Him with joy and patiently love fellow believers while bearing one another’s burdens.

When we have a personal relationship with Christ and live our lives for Him, we will not look back with regret but rather we will have lived a life worthy of the call to salvation.

Pastor Harry

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Aug 20

Your Move

A few years ago my oldest son took up the game of chess.  He played on his elementary school team.  To help him practice between days that they met for official practice, I would play him in a game of chess.  He certainly got better over time, and even on one occasion he beat me because he finally listened to his old man.  The one thing I noticed about him was that he would already have a move ready in his mind.  It didn’t matter that I hadn’t made my move yet. He was ready, or so he thought.  Many of the times when he would lose to me, it wasn’t because I was a superior player.  Before he started playing chess, I had never played the game myself.  The primary difference between the two of us was that I would try to take my time and think not only about the move I was going to make, but also I would try to think two to three moves ahead.  Andrew on the other hand, just wanted to make his move.  There were multiple times that as soon as I would make my move, he would immediately make his and say “your move dad.”  The time that he beat me, he took his time, surveyed the board, saw what he wanted to do, and even tried to think through how I would play my moves.  I would like to say that that occurred shortly after we started playing, but to the best of my recollection, it took about three or four months.  I would always plead with him to slow down, take his time, and think through what he was doing.  I got to thinking about this story when I read through a familiar Bible story the other day.

The Bible story is found in Matthew 19.  It is about a young man who came to Jesus.  The young man wanted to know how he could be saved.  After Jesus and this young man had a conversation, Jesus got to the heart of the issue.  This young man thought he could do something to earn his way into heaven.  He was convinced that he had followed the Mosaic Law and treated others the way he should have.  Then Jesus drops this bomb on him, “If you will be perfect (complete in your faith), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” (Mt. 19:21).  Jesus had a two-fold reason for His answer.  First, He wanted to show this young man that he didn’t really love others as much as he thought he did.  Second, Jesus wanted to reveal to this young man who his god really was.  Jesus’ declaration of giving it all away and following Him was meant to show that this young man loved his stuff more than he loved the Savior.  But this isn’t even the thought that ran through my mind at the time.  What was running through my mind was how Jesus handled the situation.  It is clear that Jesus loved this young man.  He stopped, had a conversation with him, corrected some faulty theology the young man had, and even told him how he could be saved.  But what we don’t see is Jesus bargaining with this young man.  He told him what he needed to do in order to be saved, and then left it right there.  Jesus essentially looked at this young man and said “your move.”

Jesus does the same for you and I today.  He isn’t going to bargain with us, He isn’t going to beat us over the head in order for us to surrender to His grace that we might be saved.  He is going to tell us what we need to know and what we need to do, and then He is going to leave it right there.  The next move is our response to Jesus and His grace.  Jesus has told us how to be saved, and He has told us how to live a life that brings Him glory and is for our good.  If we love Jesus, we will obey Him (John 14:15).  It’s great that we say that we love Jesus.  The question is does our life reflect that?  Jesus has given us all we need to know, so it’s our move.  We will move closer to Him through loving obedience, or will we move further from Him?

Pastor Justin

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Aug 16

Mind Management God’s Way

Here is a blog from a guest blogger, Linda.  She is our director of missions at Westlake Baptist.  I pray this devotion will encourage you today.

I wanted to share something that spoke to me in devotions today from the book “Faith Dare” by Debbie Alsdorf.    My favorite verse is Phil. 4:8

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable , if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.”

Thinking on good things from God is the best way to get rid of bad thoughts. Replace bad thoughts with whatever is good according to the Scriptures.  If there is any good, CHOOSE to dwell there.  It is a treasure hunt so look for the treasure; anything good, anything beautiful in whatever situation you are in.   When you find it, stay right there with it.

When negative thoughts come at you like flies – and they will come and will come back – swat them, shoo them away and get back to the business of living IN CHRIST.   He is the powerful one who gives you life, love and mercy in all things.

Godly management of your mind, begins with these actions:

  1. Recognize negative thoughts –  AND determine how regularly you entertain them. This will take some thoughtful work on your part. (ask God to show you these)  Knowing your negative thoughts is most important.
  2. Practice putting a positive where a negative might be.

NOT – I have no money,   but – I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

NOT  – I hate my hair but –  I can find new ways to work with that.

NOT – I feel terrible   but – it could always be worse.

Put barriers of truth in your mind (Scripture!) so that when negative thoughts come, you have something to combat them with.    This is Godly managing what you think.

MY challenge today is to stop and thank God for something every hour on the hour.  What about you?

Linda

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Aug 14

The Desire of All Nations

As usual, I wasn’t able to highlight everything in the text in the sermon yesterday.  That is one of the amazing aspects of God’s Word, you never run out of glorious truths to mine from it.  One that I wanted to hit a little more than I did yesterday was the phrase, “and the desire of all nations shall come” in Haggai 2:7.  As with several other phrases and verses, this particular phrase has been at times difficult to rightly interpret.  There are two specific ways that this phrase has been interpreted.  Lord willing, we will understand it and rightly interpret that phrase here.  Before we discuss the two views, it is worth noting that a phrase or a verse cannot properly be understood apart from its context.  Each phrase or each verse is part of a larger context in that particular chapter and that particular book of the Bible.  It is also part of a larger narrative of Scripture, namely God’s plan to save those who trust Him.  Therefore, we want to look at this phrase within the larger Gospel story as well as the larger context of the book of Haggai.

The first way some interpret this phrase is that it is speaking of actual treasure being brought into the Temple.  In direct support of this is the following verse where God says, “The silver is mind, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.”  While this may be possible, I believe there are a few reasons to argue against this interpretation.  While God is specifically talking to Israel in the book of Haggai, God is also revealing His future plans for the rest of the world.  The other reason that I would argue against this interpretation is the larger theme of verse 2 and the Gospel story of the whole Bible seem to point to a person, not possessions.  Which leads to the second possible interpretation.

The second way the phrase “the desire of all nations shall come” can be understood is that it is referencing Jesus.  The first argument in support of this is the fact that the word “desire” is singular.  Second would be the fact that the end of the verse says “shall come.”  Inanimate objects to do come to people, rather people go and get them.  Looking at the larger narrative of the Gospel story we can use two other verses to support a Messianic interpretation of this phrase.  First is Malachi 3:1 which says, “Behold, I will send My messenger, and He shall prepared the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His Temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.”  This verse is speaking of two specific, separate people.  The first part of the verse that talks about a messenger being sent to prepare the way, is the forerunner of the Messiah.  The New Testament reveals this to be John the Baptist.  We see this in Matthew 3:1-3 which says, “In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  For this he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'”  The second person that Malachi 3:1 is talking about is identified in the text.  It is speaking of the Lord who is Jesus.  It says that He will suddenly come to His Temple.  That is important because Haggai chapter 2 is speaking of the Temple.  Another verse that supports a Messianic interpretation is Genesis 49:10 which says, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.”  This verse shows us that the ultimate ruler will come to Israel and rule from Israel.  Specifically this will happen in the Temple.  It says that this ruler will be known as “Shiloh” which means peace.  If we look at Haggai 2:9 it says that God will “in this place (the Temple) give peace.”  Therefore, the one who comes to the Temple to rule and reign will be the One that God uses to bring peace to the world.  This can only speak of the Messiah, because money surely doesn’t bring peace to this world.

Therefore, it is my understanding that the “desire of all nations” is a Messianic title.  That is, it is referring to Jesus.  Applying this interpretation we see that Jesus has already partially fulfilled this promise when as a little boy, and even during His ministry He went into the Temple.  Literally, at those moments the glory of the Lord was in that place, because as John the Baptist said in John 1:14, “And the Word (John the apostle’s title for Jesus) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  So while it was partially fulfilled in Jesus’s ministry, the ultimate fulfillment will be when Jesus comes in power and glory at the end of the age to set up His messianic kingdom on earth as given in Revelation 20.  The Temple during Jesus’ earthly ministry was the site of many showdowns between Jesus and the religious leaders.  However, when He returns to the earth the Temple will be the source of peace, because the Prince of Peace will have returned.  This is why God says that “glory of the latter will be greater than of the former.” What an amazing promise for us that while this life is full of turmoil, trials, and troubles; there is  coming a day when Jesus will bring peace to earth.  And the even better news is that you can experience some of that peace now.  We can experience that peace by surrendering to God’s grace in faith that Jesus died on the cross and on the third day rose from dead.  He did this to pay for our sins, and He is the only was that we can be saved.  When we come into a relationship with Jesus based on these facts, Jesus gives us His peace to know that whatever happens to us in this life, our eternal life is secured by His blood.  There is nothing that can take that peace away from us!

Do you have that peace?  The peace with God that only comes from God?  If not, would you like to have it?  If so, reach out to us at westlakebc@gmail.com.  We would love to tell you how you can experience God’s peace and presence today, tomorrow, and forever.

Pastor Justin

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Aug 13

God Cares About The Box

A humorous thing happened in the Sunday school class that I attend with my wife yesterday.  Our teacher was talking about God loving and caring for us.  He asked us to share a time in which something happened that we were confused about, that we didn’t know why God was allowing it, but now that we reflect on it we can see what God was doing.  So as stories were being shared, one lady who had gone through a particularly difficult time recently started to share her story.  She talked about how she had thrown a box away not realizing that her cat loved that box.  Since she threw it away, the cat was not acting the same, and it dawned on this lady why the cat was acting this way.  However, she didn’t have a new box for the cat.  As she was working and praying one day, she heard something fall in her closet.  When she went to the closet, she noticed something fell, but even more important, up on the shelf there was a box she could give to her cat.  She told us that she just sat down and wept, overcome with emotion, and she said, “God you even care about the box.”  She like many of us had forgotten that God cares about our life, including the small, seemingly insignificant details of our life.  Our teacher then reminded us of something we heard J.D. Greear say the previous week in our online Bible study.  Greear said, “we trust God to meet our greatest need in life, the need to be saved from our sin.  Why is it that we don’t trust Him with the other details of our life?”  I have to admit that was a powerful quote from J.D. Greear, and a great reminder from our teacher.

Maybe you find yourself in a tough place today.  Life isn’t going the way that you hoped it would, or things are happening that you never thought you would go through.  You feel like you are at or rapidly reaching the end of your rope.  I hope to encourage you through two passages of Scripture.  The first one is found in Matthew 10.  Jesus is talking about how the disciples would experience difficult times in their life as they took a stand for Him.  In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?  And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” A sparrow was a small, seemingly insignificant bird; however, Jesus said that God even knows when one of those sparrows dies.  And Jesus says that we are even more valuable than the sparrows.  Therefore, if God cares enough about the sparrows to know when one dies, how much more does He care for you and I in what we are going through?  The second passage is found in Matthew 6.  In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus is talking about the futility of worrying.  He tells us not to worry about food, clothing, or shelter.  Jesus says that we should think about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.  Neither of those work to produce what they need, yet God makes sure they have everything they need.  Jesus then tells us not to worry, because God already knows what we need.  Implied in that statement is that not only does He know what we need, but He already has a plan to provide what we need.  That frees us up to do as He says in Matthew 6:33, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The point is simply this, God loves you and cares about you.  You are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).  God loves you so much that He died in your place (Rom. 5:8).  If God provided the remedy for your biggest problem, sin, then you can trust that He will provide for your needs, even the ones that you don’t think are a big deal.  Is something weighing heavy on your heart?  Is there a decision you need to make?  Is there something you are worrying about?  Take it to God in prayer.  We often sing a hymn at Westlake Baptist that has these lyrics, “Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” (“What A Friend We Have in Jesus-Joseph Scriven).  It’s true that God already knows that what we need, and He already has a plan to provide for us.  But we take it to Him in prayer as a demonstration of our faith and trust in Him, that He has the answer and the provision we need.  The next time you find yourself worried, stressed out, and strung out about something just remember, God cares about the box (and every little detail of your life as well)!

Pastor Justin

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