Author: Leland Acker

Pastor of Life Point Baptist Church, morning host on News/Talk 102.3 KXYL.

Have You Met Grace?

Grace

Amazing Grace. Grace Greater Than Our Sin.

We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Grace.

This word is spoken often in Christian circles, and is a key component of salvation. It’s the subject of hundreds of Christian hymns and praise songs.

But what does it mean?

If your only exposure to the word “grace” is from watching television, then no doubt you probably think it has something to do with the way Sasha Cohen provides a visual interpretation of the music she skates to during the world figure skating championships.

Or, if you were a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember that Elaine was denied a job because she lacked the “grace” of her predecessor, who happened to be Jackie Onassis.

Such is life, and such is the progression of languages. A word that meant one thing years ago no longer has the same meaning at all.

When the scripture was written, grace was more of an attitude than an action. It was a motivational factor, not the factor itself.

Grace, in Biblical terms, is defined as an “unmerited favor,” or an “unconditional love.”

Those who grant grace to others bestow upon them a love, a gift, or a pardon that is not deserved based on the actions or merits of the recipient. In terms of Biblical grace, the One who was the greatest benefactor is God.

God’s grace toward mankind, and toward us individually, is an undeserved love and an unmerited favor. We sinned against Him. We rebel against Him. We try to redefine language in the Bible to suit our tastes.

We’re selfish. We take advantage of others. We sin. From God, we deserve nothing but punishment and accountability.

Yet, God in His grace forbears. He allows us to continue, utilizing the effects of our wrong choices to teach us and correct us. He then forgives, redeems, and blesses. That’s grace.

Ultimately, the grace of God was expressed in that He sent Jesus Christ into the world to redeem us from sin by dying on the cross. That grace is expanded through His forgiveness of our sins and His willingness to give us time to learn and repent. To top it off, He blesses us as well.

We access God’s grace through our faith, our trust that He will forgive us based on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Upon accessing God’s grace, we learn just how much we have been forgiven, and thus learn to forgive ourselves, and others.

The attitude the Christian should take toward others is the attitude God takes toward them. Our desire is to see them redeemed and restored, not condemned and destroyed.

Those who have come to an understanding of God’s grace in their lives understand this concept. Those who have not walk in anger. For those, we forbear as God does, and we pray for their understanding and we minister to them, too.

Have you comprehended the grace of God?

  • Do you know and understand that God loves you?
  • Do you know that forgiveness of sin is available through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ?
  • Do you forgive others?
  • Have your forgiven yourself?

May God bless you as you learn more of His love and grace.

This is the greatest cause…

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Have you ever noticed the passion local civic organizations have toward their causes? One organization raises funds to purchase dictionaries for every local third-grader. Another raises funds to purchase eye glasses for local school children. Yet, another raises funds to help children in various ways, from funding youth sports to providing scholarships for graduating seniors.

Other civic organizations raise funds for education, poverty relief, medical care, prescription medications, and one well-known organization actually raises money to operate its own hospital for children.

These are all wonderful causes, very worthy, and highly noble, and we support these organizations passionately pursuing their purposes. It’s worth noting that when you ask the members of these organizations what their purpose is, most of the time, they’ll tell you.

With that in mind, what is the purpose of the local church? Do people even know?

The church’s mission was plainly spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19-20, when He said “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you.”

The mission of the church is to teach others about salvation, and in so doing, lead others to salvation in Jesus Christ. All other activities of the local church, benevolence, poverty relief, fellowship, among others, are secondary.

The question then becomes, “How committed is the church to its mission?” To determine that, we must ask ourselves, “How committed are the members of the church to its mission?”

In civic organizations, the members pay dues, but also dig into their own pockets to donate to their causes. More than a financial commitment, they also donate their time, volunteering many hours to club activities designed to fulfill their missions.

In looking at the local church, how much of themselves do members give toward the church fulfilling its mission?

It is our prayer that in 2020, the members of all churches rededicate themselves to this cause, to reach and disciple the lost and to lead others to Christ. There is no greater cause.

If you would like to play an active role in the Great Commission, we’d love to have you join us at Life Point Baptist Church. Contact us on the contact page to see what opportunities await you. Be prepared. Giving yourself to the mission of Christ will require sacrifice, which is what Pastor Leland Acker discussed in his message this week, which is posted below:

With This Faith! (What made Dr. King’s Dream righteous)

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Today, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life-long devotion to the advancement of civil rights led to the end of institutionalized Jim Crow across the American South.

Dr. King was not the first to dream of an America where people would be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. He was not the first to march, and he was not the first to protest.

Dr. King’s approach of non-violent resistance, civil disobedience dates back to the efforts of Melvin Tolson at Wiley College in Marshall, Tex., in the mid 1930s. From Tolson’s efforts, sharecroppers unionized, and one of his pupils at Wiley went on to found the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE). For what it’s worth, the approach of civil disobedience dates back to an essay by Henry David Thoreau written in the 1840s.

Dr. King was not the first to dream, nor was he the first to act. So, why was his movement the first to effect tangible change? How did Dr. King’s movement transform the nation?

The answer lies in his heart.

The heart of Dr. King, from which his plans for the civil rights movement were built, was laid out in a sermon he preached at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., on November 17, 1957. In his sermon, titled, “Love Your Enemies,” Dr. King explained that the darkness from anger sparked by racial injustice could not drive out the darkness of the racism itself, that only light could drive out darkness.

Dr. King explained the concept of love, what it means to love your enemies, and that love has a redemptive power. Redemption, it means to free one from the bonds of sin. To redeem your enemies means to convert them and to bring them over to your side. The concept is rooted in the Gospel.

Dr. King loved America, and wanted to see America redeemed from it’s racial injustice. To do this, Dr. King trusted the Lord’s word to love his enemies. His entire movement was built on his faith.

The concept of love and redemption carried over into his work in the early 1960s, highlighted by his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  In that speech, Dr. King explained how his faith continued to motivate his work:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

Dr. King understood that his dream may not be fully realized during his life, or even during this world, but that one day, the Lord would return, and then his dream would be realized. He encouraged others in this faith, noting that unjust suffering had a redemptive quality.

Dr. King continued his work, influencing the passage of key legislation and the changing of attitudes. He left a legacy, not only of dedication, but of success.

However, Dr. King’s faith was never more evident than when he gave his famous “Mountain Top Speech,” in which he drew a parallel with Moses, saying that God had allowed him to go to the mountain top, and see the promised land.

Whether Dr. King had a mountain top experience heading into Memphis in 1968, or whether he had always worked with the knowledge that he would not see his dream fulfilled in his lifetime, he lived with the faith that God would bring that dream about.

For Dr. King, his dream was tangible, and would certainly come to pass, because his faith had made it real. As he concluded his final public address, he stated:

And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

What empowered Dr. King’s dream, his work and his activism was his faith. His faith that this cause was in line with God’s will. His faith was so strong that his dream and cause were tangible, which is what faith does, according to Hebrews 11:1.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., transformed America, not only by showing us the sin of racial injustice and spurring us to repentance, but also by demonstrating the power of a life lived by faith.

We may not transform a nation, or subdue a kingdom, but if we live our lives by our faith in the Lord, we too can see powerful things happen.

To live this faith, we must first have faith in the Lord, trust that He exists and that He receives those who come to Him for salvation. Then, we must trust that the Lord loves and does what’s best for us. The final piece is a trust in the Lord’s plan, and a willingness to move into line with God’s plan.

These are the ingredients to a life of faith, and Dr. King is a prime example of what can happen when one lives by faith. That’s why Dr. King’s dream was a righteous dream, and why his movement was so effective.

Resolve to strengthen your Theology in 2020

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By now, you’ve probably already made your list of New Year’s resolutions, and you may have even broken a few. You’ve probably also looked back and reflected on 2019, and thought of ways you’d like 2020 to be better.

There are a lot of reasons to be hopeful in 2020, but there are also a lot of areas of concern. This being a presidential election year, expect the stock market to become more volatile as it does each time we head to the polls. Expect more threats in the Middle East, more posturing from North Korea, and then there’s Russia.

Expect more protests in the United States, and more political fights.

On the positive end, expect more job opportunities, and expect the Lord to bless you in a special way individually. You will have blessed moments with your family and friends.

Whether 2020 becomes a banner year for you, or one you’d rather forget, there is one thing you can do to stabilize yourself against the storms of life, and prepare yourself to fully enjoy God’s blessing. You can strengthen your theology.

Strong theology comes from a in-depth study of the Bible. And by in-depth, we don’t mean reading the same passage over and over looking for a divine revelation to come by a miraculous epiphany. We mean reading the scripture, and analyzing it within the context in which it was written.

This also means reading the Bible with its central message in mind. The central message of the Bible is God’s redemption of us through Jesus Christ who died on the cross to pay our sin-debt, then rose again to give us eternal life.

As you read the Bible, taking into consideration its context, and keeping its central message in mind, you come to a full realization of how good God has been to you, and how much He loves you. The more you understand that precept, the stronger your theology has become.

So, resolve with us to strengthen your theology this year. Doing so will give you the strength to withstand the storms of life, and the sight to see the blessings God has given you.

At Life Point Baptist Church, strong theology is one of our foundational pursuits. Feel free to join us Sunday mornings at 10 am for Sunday School and morning worship.

And, to get a jump start on strengthening your theology, here are some of the more powerful messages preached at Life Point last year:

If you need to be encouraged through difficult times, we recommend Pastor Leland Acker’s Seeing God series…

 

Are you struggling in your faith, here’s a message about what to do when your faith fails:

 

Pastor Acker also took on the debate over tradition in this pointed message:

 

And if you resolve for a stronger marriage, strengthen it with the theology from this powerful message:

 

May God bless you richly this year. Stay strong in your faith and fall on Him when you are weak.

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

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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.