Philosophy

When the church forgets its first love…

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus dictates letters to the seven churches of Asia. These are actual letters written to actual churches who were dealing with actual issues. Our Lord’s words are not to be taken as allegory, but rather teaching in response to certain situations that had arisen in His churches. We are to take the lessons He taught them, and apply them to our lives.

In the first letter, addressed to the church at Ephesus, Jesus praises their ministry and faithfulness, but He takes issue with one thing… they lost their first love. This problem is so serious, it threatened the very existence of that church. So, what was the first love they left? That question has fueled much debate. In this video lesson, we decode the letter to the Ephesians and learn what the spurned first love was.

Stuck? Praise the Lord!

The Apostle John did everything right. He loved Jesus, he preached the Gospel, he ministered to thousands, and spend his entire life dedicated to the Lord.

Yet, he found himself imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos “For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ,” meaning he was actually imprisoned for doing what is right.

Yet, when we first see John in the book of Revelation, he is in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, meaning that we can be joyful, hopeful, and have faith in any circumstance, and circumstances don’t affect our worship. Check out the above-posted video for part-two of our YouTube series from the book of Revelation.

Every Step Toward God’s Kingdom

No doubt, Patmos was a horrible place. A wretched, rocky prison island, upon which the Apostle John found himself as a result of a sentence handed down by a Roman judge for the crime of preaching the Gospel.

John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, the disciple who was closest to Jesus, who spent his life preaching the Gospel of Jesus. Yet, he found himself upon this wretched island, persecuted and forsaken.

Yet, on the Lord’s day, John was in the Spirit, and worshiping. It was at that moment that the Lord appeared to John… an overwhelming, yet welcome sight. The Lord’s appearance set off a divine Revelation to John that, despite the troubling things shown in the future, left John feeling at peace and thankful, resulting in the final words of the book, “Even So, Come, Lord Jesus.”

Oh, to be able to look through the pain of today toward the glory of God. Welcome, to our new YouTube series.

Hope (Daniel 9:24)

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Daniel was a man who had done everything right, yet, time after time, adversity and tribulation troubled him. Captured from his homeland of Israel during his younger years, he was one of several elite captives taken from Israel and enslaved in Babylon.

Though Daniel’s assignment wasn’t the worst, he worked personally for the Babylonian king, he still faced troubles, from impure foods being offered, to being thrown in the lions’ den, to seeing his friends thrown in the fiery furnace. (Daniel and his friends were delivered from all of those, by the way).

By the time we get to Daniel 9, the Babylonian empire has been conquered by the Medo-Persian empire, and Daniel is now working for another king. Having lived through the entire Babylonian captivity, Daniel now sees the light at the end of the tunnel,  and the captivity is coming to a close.

Daniel sees God’s deliverance coming, and it is at this time that God begins to show Daniel how He will redeem His people and restore the nation of Israel. In Daniel 9:24, the Lord gives us his plan:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

God would redeem His people, and restore His nation, by ending man’s rebellion, cleansing man from sin, and establishing His Kingdom on earth. Listen to Pastor Leland Acker discuss this message of hope below:

The House of Prayer

 

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What is the purpose of going to church?

In today’s time, the importance of church participation has been diminished. Some have quit going because they’ve had bad experiences. Others, quote such sayings as “Standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.”

Yet, the church continues to move forward, and people remain involved in church. Why? What is the point? And should I be involved in my local church?

First, we must remember that the church is not the building, but rather the people who join together in the building. The church is not about going to a place and participating in a weekly ritual. The church is about what happens when the people gather together.

When the church gathers, things happen. The Word of God is preached, the people pray, lives are changed, and the members come away with a deeper understanding of the Lord and His Word.

If you need prayer, the church is there. If you need comfort, the church is there. If you need to connect with others, the church is there. And most importantly, if you need to connect with God, the church is there.

In Mark 11:17, Jesus said, “My house shall be called of all nations a house of prayer.” In referring to the Temple, Jesus noted that His house should be the place where people go to connect with God, whether that is repenting of sin and expressing faith through the sacrifices, or whether that means lifting up requests to God, the way Hannah did in 1 Samuel 1. In Jesus’ day, to connect with God, you went to the Temple.

Today, the church serves that role. The church has been commanded to help people connect with God, to pray with people, to minister to and teach people, and to bring people into God’s presence.

If you are a Christian, God wants you to participate in this process. If you are not a Christian, but want to know God, then you should gather with the church.

It is difficult to connect with God while remaining isolated. Being connected with God’s people and His church is a prime way to be connected with God Himself.

So, if you are without a church home, begin visiting churches in your area. If you live near Brownwood or Early, Texas, we’d love to have you visit with us.

Life Point Baptist Church, 599 Sunrise, Early, TX. Sunday School 10 a.m., Sunday Worship 11 a.m.

For more on the concept of the church being the house of prayer, check out Pastor Leland Acker’s sermon below.

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.

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.