Tag Archives: growing in the Lord

Build On, Lord!

Psalm 127

Unless the Lord builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted.

We are about a month away from moving into our new church building on the north end of this island. To say we are excited is an understatement.

If I would tell you the many ways God has shown His hand in the twenty years since our church was formed, you would be amazed. We can see His direction and blessings at every turn. Just since we broke ground eighteen months ago (yes, during COVID), there has been one delay after another, the business building we owned and could not sell for years finally sold, we were faced with price increases and materials shortages. So many things that seemed like obstacles to us, turned out to be avenues for God to do His thing! And did He ever! We are almost ready to open our doors nearly debt-free.

It’s going to be a glorious day!

But our prayer is that this will be the LORD’S HOUSE in every aspect. We know He has built the structure. But more important is the building of the Church, those of us who will worship Him there.

The “building” has only begun.

May each of us allow God to continue teaching, leading, convicting, forgiving, growing each of us who call Frederica Baptist our church home. May our hearts be yielded to His will, our efforts be to His glory. May the Lord continue to build this house so that our work is not wasted.

He has been so faithful in bringing us this far. He will be faithful as we move ahead in our new digs. May He find us faithful.

Build on, Lord!

A Diary

Numbers 33

Matthew Henry suggests Moses may have kept a diary of his forty years as Israel’s leader. In chapter 33 of Numbers, we may be seeing an expert from that diary or a summary of one. We see the route the Jews took from Egypt to the Promised Land, and it’s more like a maze than a straight line. The names of the places where they stayed reminds us of some their experiences along the way – experiences meant to teach us today.

So, would keeping a diary be important for a Christian?

I had never watched “The Amazing Race” on TV until this past season. A married couple whose You Tube channel I enjoy were contestants, so I thought I’d watch to see how far they got in the competition – and they won! I actually enjoyed watching what amounts to a race around the world, with some “roadblocks” along the way. (the maggot infested cheese was a roadblock that would have sent me home!)

Here is what this winning couple attributed to their success: Kim’s diary. Every night she would get out her notebook and write what they had done. She would draw pictures of what they had seen. Then she and her husband would study the diary in case there was a memory test at the end of the race. There was. And they won pretty easily.

So what does that have to do with anything? I don’t know about your memory, but mine isn’t what it used to be. I kind of regret not having a diary, from let’s say 2002 or 1992, so I could look back and see how God was working in my life. I’m sure the things I thought were challenging – or impossible- at the time were worked out by God, and I’d like to see how. I think that would be encouraging in my walk today.

If you are one who has been keeping a diary, let me encourage you to go back and read it. Let God show you how He’s brought you to today.

If you aren’t in the habit of keeping a diary, you might want to begin. I’m one that isn’t comfortable writing down my “feelings,” but a diary can be just the facts. You might say, well nothing happened today that would be important to journal. Maybe not at the moment. But God IS working in your life one day at a time. Maybe this “unimportant” day will play an important roll down the road.

I know keeping a diary isn’t for everyone. I guess you won’t know until you try. But there is something valuable about remembering, about looking back and appreciating the road God has walked with you. And trust me, you young folk, remembering gets harder the older you get!

Are You Listening? (Luke 8)

The parable of the Sower has something to say to all of here in 2020. Jesus says good seed was planted, and there were four results from the planting:

  1. Some seed fell along the path and were trampled, then eaten by birds.
  2. Some fell on rocky soil and didn’t take root.
  3. Some fell among weeds that choked the growth out of them.
  4. Some fell on good soil and yielded a harvest.

I have heard this passage interpreted to show how sinners receive the Gospel message. Some pay no attention, some hear it but don’t receive it, some allow the Gospel to take root but then the trials of life and the lust of the world smother it, but some receive the precious Gospel of Jesus with gladness and grow to maturity in the Truth.

I certainly can’t argue with that interpretation. And all of us, whether believers in Jesus or not, have or do fall into one of those categories.

But Jesus is talking to His disciples, His followers here in Luke 8 and, as always, I try not to apply God’s Word merely to any “them.” What does this parable have to do with my walk with Jesus today?

Therefore, consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” (verse 12)

Jesus said these words to His disciples after sharing the parable of the sower, and the parable of the lamp stand. Be careful how you listen, He warns.

Every time I open my Bible or hear a sermon preached or lesson taught, there will be a response similar to one of the “seeds” in Jesus’ parable. Think about it:

  1. Maybe I don’t like the preacher or the tone of voice of my teacher. Maybe when I open my Bible I am distracted by the TV or by thoughts about my plans for the day. I hear or read the words, but they fall on deaf ears. The devil comes and takes away the word from my heart. That is a sobering thought.
  2. Maybe I really do listen to the message and/or lesson and may even squeak out an “amen” if I agree with something that is being said. But I walk out the doors of the church and promptly forget. I go about my life as though I never heard the Truth at all. Maybe I read my obligatory Bible verses in the morning and, although I read every word, my mind is elsewhere and I get to the end of my “quiet time” without allowing it to take root. Jesus said that when the trials of life come, there is a danger that I could fall away. Another sobering thought.
  3. Maybe I’m trying to balance my love of God with my love of the world. I go to church, maybe serve on committees and sing in the choir. But I surround myself with ungodly people the other six days of the week, I blend in, compromise, compartmentalize my life into the church me and the worldly me. My “quiet time” takes a back seat to the busy-ness of my day. I read my Bible and listen to the lessons, but all of that has to fit into an already cluttered heart. Jesus said I’ll never mature if that’s the case. Is it possible to be comfortable among the weeds? Yet another sobering thought.
  4. Or maybe I’m that fourth seed. I listen AND obey. I dig my roots deep into Scripture, I trust the Gardner to water and nourish my soul, and I use what I learn to get out there and share Jesus with people in my world.

I have to ask myself if I am growing every day or am I stunted, ineffective, allowing Satan to steal what is mine? Do I hunger to know more about God, eager to grow and learn and be strengthened by the Truth of Scripture? Do I take it in and allow it establish root to become a fruitful disciple of my Lord?

Every time I hear a sermon, every time I read God’s Word, there will be a response by me. God is challenging me to be careful how I listen.

September 28 – A Worthless Pledge

Nehemiah 6-10

The school where I was guidance counselor celebrated Red Ribbon Week each year. I always tried to make the emphasis fun, informative, and challenging. We’d ask students and staff to take a pledge to be drug-free. They’d sign a banner or a poster, then receive a red ribbon they would wear to show evidence of their pledge.

Student leaders were in charge of sitting at tables in the hallway and asking kids to sign the pledge and receive their ribbons. I’d often have them perform skits or share information during our morning announcements about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We’d have contests, and try to make it cool to be drug-free.

Years later, I got a call from a young woman who had been one of my student leaders while she was in Middle School. She had recently asked Jesus into her life, and felt the need to confess some past sins to people she felt she had hurt. She told me that she had started using drugs in Middle School, that while she had been one of the more vocal advocates of a drug-free lifestyle, she had been using. She’d signed the pledge every year. She just didn’t keep her pledge and wanted to apologize for lying to me.

I read the list of names of the men who signed a pledge to obey God (Nehemiah 10) and wondered how many of them were able to keep their promises once the ink dried on the paper. Did they sign it like my young friend, not intending to keep their word, but because it seemed like the acceptable thing to do? Or did they sign it with good intentions, only later discovering they couldn’t hold to it? We know the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to obey God. Did any of those men succeed?

Sometimes I think we Christians are guilty of trying to get people to say the right words, raise a hand or kneel at an altar, or promising to change, then we walk away and assume we’ve done our part. But salvation isn’t a name on a ledger. Salvation isn’t even a promise to quit sinning. It isn’t church attendance, or praying for a meal at the restaurant.

The New Testament tells us we can recognize Believers by their fruit, their love for one another. The test isn’t church membership. It’s a life that look’s like Jesus’ life. It’s a person who thinks more highly of others than himself. It’s a heart that belongs to the Savior because that person has asked Jesus to forgive them.

I wish I had paid more attention to that young Middle School girl. Maybe I could have recognized the signs of drug abuse in her. I think because she said what I wanted to hear, I figured she was ok. She wasn’t.

Do you know a person who is young in their faith? Get to know them better. Nurture them. Hold them accountable out of love. Don’t assume because they went forward last Sunday that they will be ok. Those of us who have walked with God for a while now know that accepting Jesus is the first of many steps in this Christian life.

Walk with someone today who is learning to use their faith-legs. Your interest might be exactly what they need to help them keep the promises they’ve made to the Lord.