Category Archives: Bible Study

Encouragement Time: Keep Your Promises

It’s Friday! You’ve surely got a lot of exciting things to do, right?

Well, if your schedule is clear and you are looking for something to fill a few minutes, here is a link to today’s 2pm “Encouragement Time” I do live every weekday on Facebook.

The main subject of this short devotional time is to make sure you do what you promise to God.

https://fb.watch/19HRHFajsa/

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Just Return; He’s Looking for You!

This afternoon I did a live video on Facebook.

I normally do one, a short “Encouragement Time,” every weekday around 2pm.

The subject of today’s video was that of the prodigal son in Luke 15.


You know, I’m not perfect. Are you? Do you ever do things you’re ashamed of?

Do you ever sin? I do. I know perfectly well what it’s like to wonder whether God even wants to hear you confess and repent. I mean, really, hasn’t He heard it all before?

But the story Jesus tells of the Prodigal is one that displays the wondrous love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of the Father. Yes, the story is really more about Him than the wayward, muddy, starving son.

When the young man reached his lowest point, there in a hog lot, starving and alone, he remembered the goodness of his father.

When he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.'” – Luke 15:17-19 CSB

Because he had already spent his inheritance (he thought), and since he had treated his own father like he was dead, there was no reason to expect a “Welcome home!” However, he knew his father’s slaves had it better than what he had – which was nothing and no one. He’d have to take his chances.

So, when the broken and filthy young man returns, the reception he receives is more than he could have ever hoped for. Already looking for him, the father spots his son on the horizon and runs to him! No doubt expecting the worst, the son falls on his face and attempts to make the case for indentured servitude. Maybe this would keep his father from killing him outright.

Humble, prostrate in the dirt, not even looking up to see the tears in his father’s eyes, he expects – or rather hopes for – the customary foot upon his neck, the accepted symbol of becoming a slave. But, instead…

…the feeling of a bristly beard upon his ear…

…an arm on his back…

…a rough palm cradling the other side of his head…

…and tear-drenched kisses?? Not the sole of a sandal? KISSES! Yes, kisses on his neck!

More joyful to receive his son back home than determined to reclaim his honor, the exuberant father drowns out the pitiful son’s pleas and cries out, “My son has come home!”

Instead of putting his foot on the boy’s neck, the father had humbled himself and descended to the place where his lowly child lay in the dirt. Instead of justice, He showed mercy.

And then Amazing Grace called out for a party!

God is the Father. You and I are the Prodigal. No matter how far we’ve drifted or run, He is still looking and waiting.

Let’s go home.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, Family, God, grace, Love of God, Relationships and Family

Just Be Thankful You’re Alive!

Sunrise over Chattanooga

As I Was Reading…

As I was reading the book of Lamentations (not the happiest of reads), I read a verse I’d like to share with you.

Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins? (Lamentations 3:39, CSB)

What does this verse mean?

Simply put, if you have been punished for your sins by a Holy God … and you’re still alive … you have nothing to complain about!

Seriously, so often we gripe about the circumstances we endure, yet those circumstances are often the result of our own sinful decisions.

But isn’t it a wonderful thing that we are so loved by our heavenly Father? Because he is rich in mercy, He does not pour out on us the punishment we deserve.

We are alive! We should be grateful!

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. – Lamentations 3:41-42

Did You See the Sunrise?

There are so many things in this world we could complain about. So often those who complain the most are the ones who have the most. But if there’s anything worth rejoicing about, it is the fact that we serve a God who is rich in mercy.

We don’t deserve anything good, no matter how small or insignificant; we deserve judgement.

However, if I just turn back one page in my Bible I can read verse 22, where it says, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” And, thankfully, they are new every morning!

If you are reading this, then you are alive!

Why not take a moment and praise Him?

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Labor Day – The Nature and Doctrine of Work

Let’s talk about work, shall we? Better yet, I’ll just share with you an amplified outline of a sermon I delivered last year.

And if you think reading this is work, just whistle!

What is it? (Work)

A. It Was Created By God. Note: God was the first to “work” when He created, and He set the example for us to follow in that He worked, then He rested. But God’s work and mand’s work were not synonymous in nature: God created what man was to tend. There are huge theological and anthropological implications to this truth: man does not create; he only tends.

B. It Was Perfect By Design (what to do and where to do it) but spoiled by sin (what he HAD to do and WHERE to do it).

  • Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put (to settle down, to rest, to set in a certain place) him into the garden of Eden to dress it (till, work, service) and to keep (guard, keep in a certain state) it.”
  • Genesis 3:17-24 – See “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread . . .”, and “sent,” “till,” and “thrust.” Still a requirement, but no longer “resting,” pleasurable service, or in a state unpolluted by the stain of sin.

C. It Is a Blessing. Ecclesiastes 5:12 – “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

D. It Is a Reformer. Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

E. It Is Mandatory.

  • To ensure you eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11 – “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not all, but are busybodies.”
  • To provide for your family. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).

F. It Is a Peacekeeper. 2 Thessalonians 3:12 – “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

What Is Expected? (Ephesians 6:5-9)

A. To Be Obedient. “(5) Servants, BE OBEDIENT to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

B. To Be Genuine. “(6) Not with eyeservice [a person who appears to be actively fulfilling his duties, but only when someone is looking], as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

C. To Care. “(7) With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men;

  • See also Colossians 3:23 – ” Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

D. To Be Fair. “(9) And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.”

What to Expect

A. Earthly Compensation. Colossians 4:1 – “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

B. Heavenly Compensation. Ephesians 6:8 – “Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”

C. Fiery Evaluation.

  • If work is sacred, it’s not secular and separate from the spiritual life.
    • Created by God
    • Done for the glory of God
    • Meant to be a witness (Matt. 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”)
    • We must answer to our Heavenly Master for our earthly work (Col. 4:1)
  • Then every work, whether overtly religious or not, has spiritual ramifications and will be tried. 1 Corinthians 3:10-14
    • But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
    • (13) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire;
    • and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. (14) If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”

Conclusion

Where has God placed you? Where is the field in which you labor? What kind of laborer are you? What kind of boss are you? do you view your work, your job, as sacred?

“Just look at your tools…at your needle and thimble…your goods, your scales…everything our bodies do, the external and the carnal, is and is called spiritual behavior if God’s Word is added to it and done in faith.” – Martin Luther (attributed)

Jesus said in John 9:4 – “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

What kind of worker are you? Are you giving your best for the Master?

Do you whistle or whine? 

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What Having a Thought Looks Like

Last week, as I was studying for the upcoming Sunday morning sermon, I had a thought cross my mind, which led to me jotting it down on my desk calendar.

Before long, my “thought” became notes which would affect 6 days’ worth of my calendar and become the source of much discussion between several other pastor friends and myself.

Amused, I picked up my phone and took a picture, then posted it on Facebook. I commented, “This is what having a ‘thought’ looks like.”

So, with no editing or commentary, I’d like to share my “thoughts” with you. All I did was re-write them so that they could be read in this format.

One doesn’t have to have a sin nature to sin. Angels sinned without a sin nature. Adam sinned. But, since Adam, all have sinned (Romans 5:19), whether innocent or not, for their very nature – the sin nature – is not holy as God is.

The true predicament: Are you as holy as God? No, of course not! Then that is sin! The sheer fact that we are anything less than holy defies the holy law of God which is a reflection of His nature.

The Law is not arbitrary, but in conformity with the nature of God. Therefore, no amount of keeping of the Law, even if possible, would make us holy. Only God could keep the law of His own Character, and only God could live holy and without sin, for it is His nature and only His to live consistently holy.

Therefore, no amount of law-keeping could change one’s nature, thereby making him holy, much less to become holy by keeping the law that denotes past imperfection… unholy to holy. This, again, is contrary to the nature of God which would be contrary to His Law. We have no hope! We need a Savior!

Did Adam have a sin nature that led him to sin? Or, did he willfully sin without a sin nature?

Men might be born innocent, but they are not born holy. One could then be at one moment innocent for never having willfully committed a crime, but because he is not holy, and must become holy, he is in contradiction to God’s nature (the Law within Himself) and is, therefore, a law-breaker – a sinner.

One thing is for sure – We need a Saviour! Amen?

Feel free to add YOUR thoughts below.

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Filed under Bible Study, Christianity, salvation, Theology

Teaching Thru the BFM2000 Pt 1

The Scriptures

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The Ministry In Thessalonica

Tonight I went into full teaching mode with attitude!

Wow! I just LOVE Acts, and chapter 17 is one of my favorites.

Get a glimpse inside my Sunday nights as you watch this Facebook live edition of me preaching/teaching through Acts 17:1-9.

www.facebook.com/bethlehembaptistwarthen/videos/2893988174156335/

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Just Suppose if Jesus…

My Sunday-night sermon.

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Barnabas Baker: That’s Not My Name, But It Would Be Nice

Preaching Through Acts

This is my fourth time preaching/teaching through the book of Acts, and yes, I’m still learning things. Even though it’s all been over Facebook on Sunday evenings, it’s still been exciting (especially chapter 12 – I’ll included a link at the end – you should watch it).

But one person stands out to me, especially at this time in my ministry. How he is described is what I am lacking in my own life. When I read of him and preach about him, I am convicted. Wouldn’t it be nice if people thought my name was different than what it is?

Every pastor, to one degree or another, should be more like Barnabas. Yes, I want to be seen as a reflection of Jesus, but Barnabas was certainly that. So, if they every forget my name, Barnabas Baker would work.

Barnabas

Barnabas was a Levite from the country of Cyprus who became a follower of Christ. He was a generous man, a godly man, and one whose name fit his personality; he was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36-37).

Barnabas was the type of guy that truly cared about people and wanted to see them succeed. He was more than just a team player; he was a motivator, the kind of man who would step down from the pedestal so that someone else could shine. As a matter of fact, it was Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul), the former persecutor of Christians, to the church at Jerusalem (talk about having someone’s back!).

But in preaching through chapter 11 of Acts, I came across a description of Barnabas that left me very convicted. The way Barnabas was described should be how we are described: good people, full of the Holy Ghost, and full of faith (11:24).

A Good Man

The first thing said about Barnabas was that he was “a good man.” Now, a lot of people think they are good people, but not all are. As a matter of fact, there’s no other place in Acts where Luke describes a person as “good.” Only Barnabas gets that distinction.

Being described as “good” meant that he was a man with whom no one could find fault. He must have been a man of strong character, a man who kept his word, and a man who would do anything for anybody, including give the last coin to one in need. He was the kind of man Jesus was talking about when He said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good” (Luke 6:45). Barnabas was genuine, the “real deal.”

Full of the Holy Ghost

Barnabas was also “full of the Holy Ghost.” What does that mean? Well first off, let’s think about the description of “full.”

The Greek word translated as “full” is one that meant not only to be filled up but filled up to the point of overflowing. Barnabas was totally yielded and filled with the Spirit, so much so that His presence spilled over onto others. The “son of consolation” was an encourager, just like the Spirit controlling and empowering him.

Full of Faith

Barnabas was not only full of the Holy Ghost but also of faith. Simply put, Barnabas was fully convinced and persuaded with what he believed to be true. There was no doubting, no hesitation, no reluctance, no hiding, no timidity. Barnabas was sure in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that is one reason he was sent by the church in Jerusalem to see what was going on in Antioch of Syria.

The Result

Now, let’s look at what happened because of Barnabas’ character, his spiritual power, and his sure faith.

“Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.” – Acts 11:23-24 

First, because he was a good man, he was not jealous of the good things happening in Antioch; he rejoiced that the grace of God had been poured out on the believers there!

Second, because he was full of the Holy Ghost, what was in his heart (as Jesus described) had to be shared, so he “exhorted” them and encouraged them in their faith.

Third, because Barnabas knew what temptations and trials could come, especially with the persecution following Stephen’s death fresh on his mind, he encouraged the new believers to be pro-active in their devotion to the Christ. He knew that the only way to have a strong faith is to purposefully “cleave unto the Lord.”

Fourth, many people were added unto the Lord! Because of the spirituality and faith and character of godly Barnabas, not only were new believers in Antioch strengthened, but many more people came to know Christ!

The Challenge

Here’s the thing. Why aren’t more people coming to a saving faith in Jesus? Why aren’t more of our churches encouraged? Why aren’t more Christians spiritually maturing in their faith? It’s because we don’t have enough men and women like Barnabas.

Be a good person! Seriously, be the type of man or woman that people can trust and rely on. Be the type of person that people can tell you care. Be generous, compassionate, trustworthy, and consistent. Be people of honor and character.

Be filled with the Spirit! Do you know what it means to be completely filled with the Holy Ghost of God? It means there are no little rooms, closets, or boxes in your heart where there is written a note to God which says, “Private! Hands off!” Every are of your life – every secret part – should be yielded to and controlled by the Spirit of God. Otherwise, you are self-controlled and rebellious, and thereby powerless.

Be full of faith! Grow your faith. Study God’s Word. Know why you believe what you believe. Don’t be a coward! If you are shy or feel intimidated to share your faith with others, ask yourself why that’s so!

Would you be afraid to warn your neighbor a murderer was crawling through his bedroom window? Would you be afraid to yell “fire!” if flames were engulfing the rooms of a hotel where people were sleeping? It’s only because you are NOT full of faith that you are not bold; you have doubts the fire is real and the murderer really means to harm.

You and I need to be more like Barnabas.

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Father’s Day, Wednesday (and maybe a bonus)

I Just Don’t Feel Like Wri

Honestly, I just don’t feel like writing. I couldn’t even finish the header! I don’t know what’s come over me.

One possibility is that COVID-19 has thrown schedules to the wind. Because of that I’m not in the office for longer periods as often.

So, with only a laptop or my phone (which I’m on right now), it’s a lot of work to clean off my reading and drawing/painting table to set up my computer. Maybe I’m just spoiled. Or lazy.

Anyway, to compensate a little, I wanted to share some more videos from this past week.

More Videos

Sunday was Father’s Day. The first video is of me preaching live on Facebook. The sermon is “How to be a God-like Dad.” I edited it for YouTube.

The Sunday evening video shows me in my office talking about Acts 11 and primarily Barnabas. This was a personally convicting lesson. I need to be more of a Barnabas.

On Wednesday I continued with our study of Nehemiah. I had a great time! Call it preaching 😉

Oh, today is George’s birthday! He’s 1 year old (7 in dog years)!

Getting ready to ride! Yes, I’m exercising 🙂

 

Let me know your thoughts 🙂

God bless you guys!

 

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Filed under animals, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bible Study, Parenting, Preaching