Did Dr. King Know What Was Coming?

More than 51 years later, it is still chilling to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conclude his iconic “Mountaintop” speech with the following words:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

In concluding this speech, Dr. King asserted that he did not fear death, because he knew God would bring about the racial equality and justice for which he advocated. He compared his plight to that of Moses, who did not get to enter Canaan with the Israelites, but was allowed to go to the mountaintop, and look over into the promised land. Moses died on that mountain.

Did Dr. King know he was in his final hours? Less than 20 hours after giving that speech, his life would be claimed by the assassin’s bullet. Yet, Dr. King was not deterred by the threat of death. His commitment: “I just want to do God’s will.”

What makes the Mountaintop Speech so chilling is that you get the idea that Dr. King had been given a full view of God’s will, the future of humanity, and the glories of His kingdom. Having been to the “mountaintop,” Dr. King’s commitment to doing God’s will has elevated, and he no longer (if ever) feared what would happen in his life, or to his life.

A similar occurrence happened in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:22-24:

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Notice the similarities.

Dr. King said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.”

The Apostle Paul said, “I go bound in the Spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing what things shall befall me there.”

Dr. King said, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

Paul said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Both men were keenly aware of where they stood in life. Both men were committed to their causes to the point of death. Both men were driven to advance their message.

Both men were driven by their faith, which was so strong that it had become real to them. We don’t know if Dr. King literally had a mountaintop experience like Moses, but we know that his faith was so strong that it in itself became the mountaintop. Likewise, Paul was so driven by his faith that God’s Kingdom was tangible to him as well.

Such is the nature of faith. The stronger it gets, the more tangible the things of God become. Which is why Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith makes God tangible!

Maybe that’s why we don’t see God move this powerfully in our own lives. Maybe our faith is not strong enough. Maybe we don’t really believe in anything.

Seriously, what do we stand for? What drives us? What gets us out of bed in the morning? What motivates us to speak, or post on social media? What did your preacher preach about last Sunday? And what did yall study in Sunday School?

We, as Christians, need to figure out our “why.” Why go to church? Why give an offering? Why pray? Why read scripture? Why work? What is our motivation?

We cannot invent our “why.” Our “why” is inherent in who we are. So, to find our “why,” we have to find ourselves. While finding yourself sounds like a man buying a motorcycle for a cross-country road trip in the middle of a mid-life crisis, it’s not. It’s simply going back to your roots, and who you are.

And, if you are a Christian, here’s who you are. Here’s who we are.

We are sinners, who, like the rest of the world, were condemned by God for our sin. We’ve all broken God’s law. None of us are righteous. No, not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

But God loved us so much, that He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, to Earth to live our experience, then give Himself on the cross for our sins. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).

While on that cross, Jesus took the wrath of God for the sins of the world, more specifically, He suffered God’s wrath for every individual’s sin. Our sin was paid for on that cross (1 John 2:1-2).

Realizing our sin, and our sinful condition, we surrender to the Lord, and trust Him to save us by virtue of His payment on the cross. In doing so, we confess our sin, and confess our inability to save ourselves. (John 3:16, Romans 5:1, Romans 4).

We symbolize our faith and salvation through baptism (Romans 6:1-10).

With this renewed understanding of life, and with the Spirit dwelling within us, we become new people (Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:17).

The question is, “Do you believe that?” and if so, do you believe it strongly enough for it to motivate you? Is God’s salvation in your life your “why?” And if not, why not?

It’s time to heal…

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Over the past month, Pastor Leland Acker has discussed God’s purpose, presence and comfort during times of suffering. Using the story of Job as a backdrop, Pastor Acker has discussed how the trials and tribulations we face in life bring us further into God’s presence, and make God tangible to us.

This week, Pastor Acker discussed how we can move beyond the suffering and heal, finding peace with God. Drawn from Romans 5, this message shows us how we not only have peace with God, but how we can rejoice and be joyful even when times are bad.

Listen to the message below, and contact us if you have any prayer requests.

When you pray, what are you really asking for?

Every Sunday, members and visitors to Life Point Baptist Church request prayer for a variety of circumstances. (We take prayer requests during Sunday School and morning worship, and each request is prayed for specifically). These requests range from healing, to financial provision, to reconciliation within the family, to a revival in our nation, to comfort from grief.

Each and every one of these requests is borne of a fear, a concern, a pain, or other turbulence in life. At the root of each of these requests is a desire to be delivered from the torment of the situation. In essence, each prayer request is a request for peace in the congregant’s life. This is a request we pray for, and a request we sincerely hope God grants.

If it is peace you seek in life, scripture says that God freely offers that peace. Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To be justified means to be declared not guilty because the punishment has already been paid. Scripture teaches that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Each of us has broken God’s law, the 10 commandments which instruct us not to put anything before God, not to take God’s name in vain, to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, to honor our parents, not to kill, lie, steal, commit adultery or covet.

Scripture also says the consequence of sin is death and eternal damnation under God’s judgment (Romans 6:23). Yet, 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ went to the cross where He suffered God’s wrath for our sin on our behalf. He paid the penalty for our sin. Therefore, all who believe that He died for their sin, and trust Him to receive them into Heaven are saved from God’s wrath, and have a future in Heaven with the Lord.

Since this salvation comes by believing in the Lord, the Bible tells us we are “justified by faith.”

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“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 5:1

This peace that the Bible references is two-fold. First, we have peace with God in that we are no longer enemies to God, but rather have been made friends with God, and are adopted as children into His family. Secondly, having been justified by faith, we experience a peace with God that surpasses understanding, that allows us to be in good spirits even when life around us is crashing.

This peace allows us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are good, and enables us to rejoice and praise the Lord when times are bad. That peace cultivates a hope that, as we endure what life throws at us, we continue to look forward to that day that the Lord rescues us from this world and welcomes us into His eternal peace.

It is our prayer that you find that peace. Should you have any prayer requests, you can submit them below:

Bringing “Seeing God” to its full conclusion

Light at End of Tunnel

In an attempt to provide comfort to those who mourn, are facing life-challenging situations, and who feel as if their entire world is crumbling, we’ve offered the “Seeing God” series throughout the month of October. If you’ve missed this series, catch up here:

When people are in pain, their foremost desire is to kill the pain and find comfort from the pain. This Sunday, we’ll endeavor to provide that comfort from Romans 5:1-6.

When your life has been in a tailspin, all you really want to do is end the chaos and find peace. Romans 5:1 shows us how to find that peace:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

We have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Over the years, this has been preached as if the believer has found a truce, a ceasefire, and a reconciliation with God. And that is the absolute truth! This peace comes from being justified by faith, meaning the believer has repented from his sin and trusted Jesus Christ to save his soul as a result of His death on the cross.

However, this peace goes beyond a ceasefire with God, and a reconciliation with God. This peace becomes an internal peace that allows the child of God to remain calm, faithful and hopeful even amidst the worst storms of life. Which is why Romans 5:2-6 discusses this hope, how this hope is cultivated, and the premise for this hope.

So, if you’re ready to end the inner turmoil, and find peace in life, spend some time reading Romans 5 this week, and join us Sunday morning at 11 a.m. to learn more about the peace and hope God has for us.

Seeing God pt. 1

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Job both had it all, and lived a life that honored God. The Bible tells us that he was immensely wealthy, had thousands of livestock, hundreds of servants, and a good family. More important than his material wealth, Job was described by scripture as a man who was “perfect and just, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

If anyone deserved the continued blessings of God, it was Job. Yet, God allowed Job to lose everything. Why?

In Job 42:5, after having gone through so much suffering, Job said to God, “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now I have seen you with my eyes.”

That was the goal God set forth from the beginning. God used everything Job endured to transform his faith to where God was more tangible to him.

In Job 19:25, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and will stand upon the earth at the latter day.”

Job’s use of the word “redeemer” is interesting, because it usually referred to the process of being purchased out of a debtors prison, or debt-driven servitude. Job, until chapter 1, had been a rich man. He wasn’t a man sold into a debtors prison. Yet, here, he refers to his “redeemer.”

Job used that word because he understood that life was not about the wealth and experiences he had in this world. Life is about what happens in the next. He was looking forward to the Lord coming, and redeeming him from this life to the next. He had this faith prior to losing everything, and losing everything refined this faith as the book progresses.

Everything God does, He does to bring us into His presence. Once we understand and trust that concept, our life’s experiences take on new meaning.

The first step in this is to understand our redemption. Listen below as Pastor Leland Acker discusses what a redeemer is, Who our Redeemer is, and what we’ve been redeemed from.

Seeing God!

Seeing God

How could a loving God give you everything, and then demand everything in return?

Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, recalled a Sunday morning Bible study:

A pastor read a passage from Genesis 22 where God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. Isaac was the son that God had promised for years, and Abraham and Sarah had gone through much tribulation while waiting on God to fulfill His promise of a son. Now, the son was here, and Abraham was being called to sacrifice him. (End of the story, God saw Abraham’s faith, and gave him a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac.)

The pastor offered some historical background, then said, “What does this mean for us?”

One man answered, “I’ll tell you what it means for me, I’m looking for a new church.”

The pastor asked, “Why?”

The man replied, “Because when I look at God, the God of Abraham, I feel that I am new a real God, not the sort of dignified businesslike Rotary Club God we chatter about here on Sunday Mornings. Abraham’s God could blow a man to bits, give then take a child, ask everything from a person, then want more. I want to know that God!”

The man’s assessment of God emphasized His power, and downplayed His love and grace. Likewise, many today emphasize His grace and love but not His power. A true understanding of God understands both, and sees the balance in the character of God.

For years, churches have preached about the love of God, and how He loves each and every one of us. We preach about His grace, and how He provides and cares for us.

Then, tragedy happens, and we don’t understand how that tragedy can be consistent with God’s love and care. If God is all powerful, in control of all things, and is loving, how can He allow such a tragedy to enter our lives?

We stumble for answers. Maybe God’s building our faith. Maybe He’s setting us up to be a witness for His glory. Maybe someone else will be saved because of our suffering. Yet, none of these explanations offer much comfort. Why should I have to suffer so that God can make a point?

The truth is, God does not make you suffer just so He can make a point. He does, however, use suffering to draw us closer to Him. Everything He does is to draw us into His presence. What does that mean?

In Job 19:25, after losing all of his property, livestock, wealth, and children, Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and will stand on the earth in the last day.” He went on to say that after he had died, yet in his flesh would he see the Lord.

Job called the Lord his “Redeemer.” What does that mean?

A redeemer is one who rescues. In the Old Testament sense, it was a family member who raised the money to purchase a loved one out of slavery. The redeemer redeemed the family member from bondage and set them free.

Job was not a slave, yet he looked for his “Redeemer.” From what did Job have to be “redeemed?”

He was redeemed from the curse of his sin. Likewise, he was looking forward to the day he would be redeemed from the sufferings of this life. He was looking forward to the Lord’s return, and his redemption into everlasting life.

Job came to understand this, and thus in Job 42:5, he said “My ears have heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”

Over the next few weeks at Life Point, we are going to gain a better understanding of who we are, and the hope we have in God. Furthermore, we are going to gain a better understanding of why trauma and tragedy enter our lives, and what God does to heal it. All of this with the intent to gain a better understanding of the Lord, a stronger faith, and a brighter hope.

Come see us. Sunday mornings at 11 a.m. at 599 Sunrise in Early, TX.

Life Got You Down? Our Next Series Might Be For You

Adon had been a faithful member of the church for years. He had trusted the Lord as his savior as a young man, had tithed regularly, donated to the church’s missions program, and had even accompanied a group on a mission trip to Central America. If more of God’s people were like Adon, greater things would be happening for the cause of Christ.

Adon had served God faithfully, asking nothing in return. Adon never prayed that God would reward him with a better job, nicer car or bigger house. Yet, when Adon’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, that changed. Adon prayed earnestly to God, begging God to cure his mother’s cancer, to heal her, and to restore her life. He prayed that her pain would subside, that the doctors would be guided to the proper treatment, and that a cure would be found.

For six agonizing months, Adon pleaded with God for this one miracle, the healing of his mother. Other folks had cancer, and other folks saw their cancer go into remission. But Adon’s mother continued to struggle with the disease.

Adon was told that the prayer of faith would save the sick. He was told that if he prayed in faith, God would answer. All Adon had to do was pray in faith, and claim the victory. Adon continued in prayer. He stayed faithful to the church. And he never doubted God’s love and power.

That is, until the doctor declared his mother to be dead, at 2:23 p.m. on a sunny Tuesday in October.

Why didn’t God hear Adon’s prayers? Was his faith incomplete? Did he falter? When did he doubt? Was his prayer not fervent enough?

If all the prayer he had poured out would not save his mother, what was the point? Why didn’t the scriptures that were shared with him work? Was his Bible broken? Is this all a lie? Is faith only good as long as he is serving and donating to the church?

Adon became disillusioned. And who could blame him? The person who was most precious to him in the world had just been ripped away.

If we are honest, I think most of us can relate to Adon.

But there is one man in the Bible that we can look to in order to learn how to handle these times of tragedy. Like Adon, Job was also a faithful servant of God. He was just and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. He gave generously, and prayed on behalf of all those he loved. Yet, in a matter of a few days, Job lost everything… his wealth, health, and kids.

The whole world collapsed on Job. Even his wife told him to curse God and die. And when his friends came, they said it must be karma… that Job must have done something horrible to deserve this misfortune.

Much theological truth is poured out during the debates between Job and his friends. Job’s faith remained in tact, and by the end of the book, he had received a revelation that few have ever seen. Job got to know God in a way you and I cam barely imagine.

In Job 42:5, Job says to God, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”

Up until now, Job had believed in a God whom he had learned about by the teaching of the word. But now, Job believed in a God he had seen with his own eyes. While God’s presence in the book of Job is clearly felt, Job gained such an understanding of the Lord through his struggle.

The book of Job offers us comfort by giving us that deeper understanding of the Lord. And if you are enduring a time of trauma, grief or bereavement right now, you are about to experience God in a way you never before imagined.

Join us on Sunday mornings in October to obtain a deeper understanding of God through our struggles. Morning worship begins at 11 a.m.

Receive! (Mark 9:36-41)

As the disciples argued over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus took a small child and placed him in the middle, telling the disciples that those who would receive little children would also receive Christ. In other words, if you want to honor the Lord, receive those whom can do nothing for you.

Listen to the above-posted sermon as Pastor Leland Acker discusses how we are to love others the way Christ loved us.

What the Perfect 21st Century Christian is Missing

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If you were to live up to every idealized qualification of the modern American Christian, what all would you do today? When we think of the ideal Christian, we often think of someone who:

  • Has a daily devotion time.
  • Has a daily prayer time.
  • Fosters/adopts children.
  • Donates time and money to charity.
  • Advocates for righteous political causes.
  • Reads daily devotion blogs, parenting/marriage websites, and attends seminars.
  • Active in church.

All of these are good things, and we do not want to discourage anyone from doing something that brings them closer to the Lord, or something that brings fulfillment and joy. However, if these things distract us from our main calling in Christ, then we are not only missing the point, we are drifting away from Him.

In Mark 9, Jesus told His disciples that some would live to see the Kingdom of God come with power. That must have been exciting news for the disciples, knowing that they stood a chance of seeing God’s glory, and having their faith validated.

The next few verses describe how Jesus then took Peter, James and John up into a high mountain, and as they were there, Christ took on His glorified form and proceeded to have a conversation with the resurrected Moses and Elijah.

These three disciples were not only witnessing the power and glory of God, but they were seeing two of their biggest Bible heroes in person. It had to be an awe-inspiring moment.

Caught up in that moment, Peter started talking.

“Master, it is good for us to be here. Let’s build three tabernacles, one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

It was at that point that the Bible tells us that a cloud overshadowed them all, and the voice of God spoke, “This is My beloved Son, Hear Him!”

Poor Peter had a habit of engaging his mouth before his brain was in gear, but who could blame him for his excitement. We can all understand his desire to treat Moses and Elijah with respect. However, in building tabernacles to them, as well as Christ, Peter was inadvertently proposing to elevate Moses and Elijah to the same level as Jesus. That was a mistake that God corrected.

Moses and Elijah represented the Old Testament Law and Prophets. Those were the scriptures that children learned and adults were taught to live by. While there was a lot to learn from the scriptures, it must be remembered that the scriptures testified of the redemption and salvation that would come through Jesus Christ.

Today, the story of the Bible, from beginning to finish, is about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation according to the scriptures. That Gospel is the turning point of human history, and the foundational belief of the Christian faith.

With all the expectations thrown on us today, and all the different books, podcasts and TV shows vying for our attention, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, and get so busy that we lose sight of God’s love for us. Nothing could be further from God’s will.

If the perfect 21st Century Christian has lost sight of God’s love for him, then he is missing the one thing God wants for him. He is missing a blessed assurance that God loves him, and will welcome him into His Kingdom.

The more we understand this love, the more at peace we will have, and the more effective we will be in Kingdom work.

So take time and rest in God’s love today. Focus on what He has done for you, and turn to the scriptures for a fuller understanding.

Where’s the Joy?

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In an epic rant on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, comedian Louis C.K. lamented that, “Everything’s amazing, and nobody’s happy.” In his rant, Louis C.K. noted advancements in technology, travel, credit availability and prosperity, yet the country as a whole was in a pretty foul mood.

Indeed, over the past 240, God has prospered America, yet America is not happy. We can have face-to-face communications via Facetime with loved ones overseas. We can fly across the entire country in five hours. We can access any tidbit of information known to man within a few seconds. Literally, the collective knowledge of man is cataloged by Google, and easily accessible from the smart phone you keep in your pocket.

Economically, there are ebbs and flows. Yet, the trend is for businesses to expand, consumers to buy more, and employment is readily available for most. Those who are entrepreneurially minded can check market demands and easily connect with prospective customers via the internet, which has leveled the playing field between the upstarts and major corporations.

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, we can now stream our favorite TV shows when we want to. No longer must we set an appointment for Thursday nights.

Everything’s amazing, yet nobody’s happy.

Television shows endless scenes of protest, controversy, and news personalities drone on and on about the President’s tweets, and the political fall out thereof.

While Fox News may promote rising stock prices and lowering unemployment rates, no TV news network seems to want to tell the stories of the overcomers. Instead, every injustice is pointed out and inflated to foment conflict and division, which are good for politics and ratings.

Thus, the general public consumes this inflammatory content, then goes to social media to air out their frustrations. Thus, online arguments start, people continue to visit social media to participate in the argument, and online media numbers rise.

30 years ago, the general public had little opportunity to weigh in publicly on the issues of the day. Today, there are ample opportunities to do so.

Everything’s amazing. Nobody’s happy.

Today, our nation finds itself in a similar position as Israel did in Isaiah 9.  In Isaiah 9:3, the Bible says, “Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy.”

Over several hundred years, God prospered the nation of Israel. He brought them out of slavery in Egypt, cared for them as they wandered as nomads in the wilderness, and conquered the promised land for them. Once in the promised land, God prospered them with bountiful harvests, and a strong economy.

When Israel demanded that God give them a king, He provided them with strong kings who led the nation further into prosperity, and defended them against enemy invaders.

Under King Solomon, Israel reached the height of its prominence, strong not only in national defense, but also becoming a superpower.

God multiplied the nation. He gave them increase, yet their joy did not increase. Despite God’s blessings, Israel remained discontent. Discontent over the financial sacrifice made to build the temple, over God’s restrictions from engaging in the sinful conduct of the heathen nations around them, and discontent with the traditions they were given.

In their discontent, they squandered the blessings God had given them, divided the nation, turned to idolatry, and brought about destruction in their society. God had multiplied the nation, but the joy was not increased.

Everything was amazing. Nobody was happy.

Dark times had enveloped Israel. Yet, all hope was not lost.

In Isaiah 9:2, the Bible says, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”

Though Spiritual, emotional and cultural darkness covered the land, people were beginning to see a light. Despite the sin and rebellion within the culture, God was shining a light upon them.

This Light was Jesus Christ, as the Bible foretold in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Through His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ offered light in darkness. He offered deliverance from the darkness of the day by showing the eternal nature of things, and putting the things of this life into perspective.

He offered deliverance from hopelessness by offering salvation. He purchased salvation by dying for our sins on the cross.

He confirmed our hope by rising from the grave and ascending to be at the right hand of God, where He ever lives to make intercession for us.

In Isaiah 9, God promised to redeem Israel from darkness through His only begotten Son. This promise is passed on to us in the New Testament.

In his rant on Late Night, Louis C.K. said that the demise of capitalism would probably be good for us.

“I think we need a few years of walking behind donkeys with pots clanging,” he said, as O’Brien added, “It’ll kind of put things back in perspective for us.”

Yet, the solution for our national situation, and our personal situation, is not poverty. An economic collapse may get our attention, but will not solve our problems in and of ourselves.

The solution for the darkness of our current generation is simply to see the Light. To turn to the Lord, put everything into perspective, have an eternal mindset, and quit looking for fulfillment in temporary earthly things.

If we do this, everything will be amazing, regardless of economic conditions, and we’ll be happy.