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
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?
I just wanted to share the edited YouTube version of our first Sunday morning back at Bethlehem.
I was honestly thrilled to get back together, and maybe it shows 😉
Yes, it has been a while since my youngest daughter, Haley, has heard me preach. However, this morning she was with my wife as thy watched the service from home.
Even before we left Soddy Daisy and South Soddy Baptist, Haley had started attending another, larger church several miles away. I couldn’t fault her, for she had grown up hearing me preach every Sunday. At least she would now be going to church on her own, not feeling obligated as my child to attend. That’s a good thing, right?
So, yes, it has been a while since Haley has sat in a room when I preached. The closest she’s been in a year was today, and that was a bedroom, not an auditorium. I do miss her.
This afternoon, no more than an hour ago, I asked Haley, “Did you notice any difference in the way I preached today compared to at Riverside or South Soddy?”
Have you ever received a comment that you couldn’t quite tell it’s meaning? In other words, have you ever been told something that could be interpreted as either a good thing or a bad thing, and you just didn’t know how to take it? And have you ever received one of those kinds of comments and not wanted to go deeper for fear it might have actually been derogatory and not complimentary?
That’s the kind of feedback I got from my daughter. I didn’t know how to take it.
“Uhh, well, you’re more of a Bible-thumper,” she said with a cool, matter-of-fact tone.
It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when she said that. At one moment I was both hurt and indignant; sad and elated; depressed and emboldened.
“That could be a good thing, I suppose” was my reply.
- an evangelist or other person who quotes the Bible frequently, especially as a means of exhortation or rebuke. – Dictionary.com
- an aggressively zealous advocate of Christian fundamentalism. – Merriam-Webster
- Used as a disparaging term for a Christian, especially a fundamentalist or evangelical Christian, considered to be overly zealous in haranguing or censuring others. – TheFreeDictionary.com
Or, maybe it’s not.
I guess it hurts, coming from my little girl. I just hope she can see beyond the delivery of the sermon to the Truth of the message.
Should you want to decide for yourself, feel free to watch the attached video from this morning’s streamed service.
(Please excuse the poor video resolution, but in this part of the country the upload speed is only 3-6 Mbps, so I have to set my iPhone to the lowest setting, which is 720p.)
Up until a month ago, I knew nothing of Zoom or Microsoft Meetings. But now all I hear about are links to webinars and digital meetings every day. As a matter of fact, I am typing this sentence while listening to a webinar with over 200 pastors (mostly from Georgia) attending.
There’s only so much water I can drink from a fire hose.
So, as I wrote in the title, I’m webinar weary. I don’t even have the time enough to watch them all, much less attend then all when they’re live.
Nevertheless, I must say that I am absolutely grateful for the resources being offered. Actually, and I’m not the only one who’s made this observation, I think I feel more connected to my peers in ministry than ever before! I feel far less alone than at any time in the past, and all I’m doing is viewing a computer screen!
The key is that it’s live . . . and we’re all in this together.
But if you have been watching the news as of late, the big story is that Gov. Kemp is allowing Georgians to return to work. Not that everything is going to be like it was before . . . oh, no! However, there’s a lot of good people down here who not only want to get back to work, but NEED to get back to work!
What are my thoughts on the matter? All I know is that people are dying from a virus, but people are also dying from suicide at increased rates, people are going bankrupt, families are under stress, children are being abused, people are entering the ranks of the homeless, and some people are starving.
The great leaders of the world make the hard decisions that some people won’t like, while others will praise them. It’s rarely, if ever, a win-win. The best one can hope for, as in this case, is to do the best with the information you have and leave it in the hands of God.
For me, the most challenging question is when and how will we re-open church? When and how will we start gathering again as a congregation? The questions and the obstacles are numerous to the point of exhaustion.
Yet, I was put here for such a time as this. God knew what was coming when He sent me here. So, the best I can do is pray, do the best with the information I am given, and then leave the rest in the hands of God.
Live streaming has its benefits, but nothing can fully replace meeting together in person, even if 6ft. away.
I’m getting weary of webinars.
Hey everybody! Unless you attend drive-in church services, the only alternative is attending worship online. And if that’s what you do, here are four (4) quick tips for making the experience a better one.
1) Let your presence be known! Say hello, or something. If you like something said, do a “like” or “love” thing. Emoji’s are the new “amen!”
2) Try to act like you are actually in church. In other words, try to take this time seriously, because it is. But don’t get me wrong, you can still wear your pajamas and chomp on your Fruit Loops, but don’t get too distracted or else you might miss a word from the Lord for you.
3) Participate as if you’re really there. Worship in such a way that gives God the honor He is due. Don’t worship less at home than you would in front of other people in a fancy building.
4) Pray for those ministering; it’s not easy singing and preaching to a lifeless camera.
And since we’re talking about online church, below are links to the Facebook Live videos I made today.
The first video is from this Sunday morning. It starts off with my mother and me playing some music. Afterwards, my wife and mother and me sing a praise song. Then, as I explain in the video, my mother does something very rare – she sings the melody of a song (I then sing the chorus). . . . And by the way, considering my mother has pancreatic cancer, this was a special moment for me.
Oh, and the white board was a last-minute idea that could have been done better. It’s a learning process.
The second video was from tonight in my office. I start off planning to talk about Stephen’s sermon in Acts chapter 7, yet the Holy Spirit quickly led me in a very different direction. It’s worth watching (and it’s short!).
This morning my prayer for you (and myself) will be the same as what the apostle Paul prayed…
I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19 CSB
Oh, that we might comprehend the width, the length, the height, and the depth of God’s love through Jesus Christ! If we could only even slightly comprehend the vast, expansive spread before us, mercy and grace for every need; the never-ending, eternal, infinite promise of his love and care; the heights to which we are raised, far above the lowly, humble truth of our natural condition and state; and the depths of Christ’s love – humble depths to which the love of God had to reach down in order to pluck us from the pit of sin… If we could only even slightly comprehend them!
Yet, through His strength (v. 16), and being rooted and grounded in His love (v. 17), it is possible! Hallelujah! Because He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us! (v. 20 NKJV)
This morning, and every morning, to God the Father be all glory in the church by Christ Jesus, to all generations, wherever they may be, forever and ever, “world without end” (v. 20).
And all the people said… “AMEN!!”
What a wonderful opportunity to be living during this historical time!
Oh, most certainly it is a trying and sad time in so many ways. But in other ways it’s amazing.
On Sunday morning I preached from 2 Timothy 1:7 and the “spirit of fear” God has not given us. That evening I covered the meaning of Palm Sunday by looking at the event as described in the Gospels.
As a bonus, I’m including the video from this morning.
If you have any comments, thoughts, or suggestions you’d like to share, I’d love to read them. Please leave them in the comment section below, or email me at PastorACBaker@yahoo.com.