Gospel

If a farmer plants his seed, he plans to harvest

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In agricultural operations, seed is planted for survival. For many, farming is not a recreational hobby, it is a means of providing for oneself and one’s family. It’s also a risky proposition. Seed planted may grow, or may be wiped out by drought, catastrophic weather events (like hail or windstorms), or by pests.

A farmer’s income is also subject to the whims of the market, with sudden drops in commodity prices cutting into his bottom line. Therefore, when a farmer plants seed, he prepares his field, and he sows in such a way to maximize the yield from his field. Efficiency is a matter of life and death. And if the farmer has made the investment of purchasing seed, then planting it in the field, he has every intention of reaping that harvest, and getting a return on his investment. It’s the only way he keeps the farm, and provides for his family.

The idea of planting a seed without harvesting is not only foolish, but unheard of in the agricultural community. If a farmer plants a seed, he intends to harvest that seed, and he will.

It’s this concept that Jesus teaches in Mark 4:26-29:

And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

In those verses, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a man who plants his seed into the ground, and watches it grow. When it has fully developed, the man harvests his crop. Simple concept. So, what does that have to do with the Kingdom of God?

To answer that question, we need to go back and look at the pattern set forth in the other Kingdom Parables, namely, the parables of the sower and the wheat and tares. In those parables, Jesus explained that the field is the world, the man is the Son of Man, and the seed is the Word, the Gospel.

The man in the story plants, and harvests. Likewise, Jesus Christ sowed the seed of the Gospel, and He will harvest His believers.

You see, 2,000 years ago, Christ came, preached the Gospel of His Kingdom, called the world to repentance, and then was crucified for our sins, thus taking the punishment of God for those sins, thus freeing us to be able to enter His Kingdom if we repent and believe.

Over the centuries, the Gospel has spread throughout the entire world, with billions being saved over the history of Christianity. As time moves forward, prophecies are fulfilled, and we see that the time of the return of Christ draws closer.

The day is coming that the time will be fulfilled, “the full corn in the ear,” and it will be time to harvest, that is, it will be time for Christ to return to Earth and establish His Kingdom.

What the parable of the growing corn teaches us is that as certain as a farmer will harvest his crop, you can depend upon the Lord to return and establish His Kingdom. Are you ready for that day?

The Death…

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“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

The circle of life used to be a straight line, and the daily struggle didn’t exist. Such was life in the Garden of Eden, as God prepared a perfect place for man to dwell with a plentiful food supply, an automatic sprinkler system, no bad weather, and no problems. Adam and his wife, who would later be named Eve, were to enjoy the garden to its fullest, eat as much of the fruit as they wanted, and to do light gardening work as they desired. (Irrigation was covered, and there were no weeds, thorns or pests, so all work was recreational.)

In this perfect world, there was no death. Adam would not die. He would be allowed to live to see what his children, grandchildren, etc, would become. He would live to see what his work would produce. He would live to see the society he would build. It was perfect.

There was one stipulation. The tree in the midst of the garden, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was off limits. This was for two reasons. (1) God wanted man to obey, love and worship Him by choice, and (2) God did not want man to experience the evil he knew Satan already had planned for His creation.

Therefore, God warned Adam, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Adam likely did not have any concept of death. Prior to his sin in the garden, there was no death. Adam had never mourned for his dog who died, had never suffered that separation from a close loved one, and had never experienced lost fellowship with God. He had no concept of death. However, if God warned against it, it must be bad, and therefore the tree of knowledge of good and evil must be avoided.

The Biblical meaning of death is separation. Separation of soul from body. Separation of man from God. The day that Adam ate the fruit, his soul wasn’t separated from his body, but he was separated from God. Death happened. And death, both the separation of the soul from the body, and the separation of man from God, happened the day Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.

Since that time, man has sinned, and his sin has become progressively worse. Man has become ever estranged from God. Man rebels against God, His word, His law, His design. As man does this, things on earth get progressively worse. Adam didn’t live to see a great society built. He lived to see the world become so bad that God decided to destroy it with the flood. (Adam didn’t live to see the flood, but he did live to see the conditions that led to it.)

Sin separated man from God, therefore man died, and sin reigned. And so it was.

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The death prescribed by God in Genesis 2 went beyond physical death. It also meant an eternal death, an eternal separation of man from God, where God was no longer man’s Father and Provider, but rather man’s judge, jury and executioner. Sin brings death. Death brings judgment.

Yet, God loves us too much to leave it at that. Romans 5:8 says “God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The death Christ died was the death brought on by our sin. The death Christ died was the death we deserved. The death of Christ on the cross was not a mere physical death, from which the Lord could easily heal Himself. It was a separation… His Spirit from His body, but moreover, His separation from His beloved Father.

As Jesus hung on the cross, saying, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken Me?” He was not merely shouting out in agony. Neither was He sad that God “turned His back on Him.” Jesus cried, “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken Me?” because the relationship had changed.

The perfect union between God the Father and God the Son had been converted to the relationship of judge and executioner. Instead of lovingly comforting His Son, God was now judging His Son, and pouring out His wrath on Christ for all the sin of the world. This was done to satisfy the requirement for death, so that man could be saved from God’s wrath, if man repents and believes.

Out of all the cruelties that Christ endured on the cross, the hardest part was enduring the wrath of God.

Pastor Bobby Sparks of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Greenville, Tex., who also heads up the Tabernacle ministries, says that on the day of the crucifixion of Christ, man was given one “hour” to do unto God has he pleased. Pastor Sparks then points out how man treated Christ with more cruelty and shame than has ever been dealt to any other human being in history.

The cruelty of the Romans, the scourgings and beatings, the mocking of the crowds, merely demonstrated the evil and sin within man’s heart. It was the wrath of God poured out onto Jesus that settled our sin-debt, cleared us from guilt, and makes reconciliation with God possible.

Jesus Christ died that death, so we don’t have to. Yes, we will one day close our eyes as our soul leaves our body. However, we do not have to suffer an eternity separated from God. Are you willing to trust what Jesus Christ did on the cross for your salvation? Do you trust the Lord? Then turn from your sin and follow Him.

May God bless you.

The Parable of the Sower (Audio included)

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In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus begins teaching in a series of parables. His first, “The Parable of the Sower,” tells of a man sowing seed throughout his field, with some seed landing by the wayside and being snatched up by the birds, some landing in thorny ground, and being choked out by the weeds, some landing on stony ground, and being scorched by the sun, and others landing on the good ground, and bearing fruit.

It’s one of the most basic parables that has spawned books, blogs, sermons and teachings. You may be very familiar with this parable, and much of what you know about this parable is probably true. However, we need to go back to study the Parable of the Sower because that parable is the key to understanding all of the Lord’s parables. Jesus said so in Mark 4:13.

Understanding this parable, and the symbolism thereof will shape the way you interpret the Kingdom Parables (the parable of the leaven, the mustard seed, the treasure in a field and the pearl of great price) in Matthew 13. To see how this parable sets the stage for the Kingdom Parables, join Pastor Leland Acker and Life Point Baptist Church on April 14. Hint: The current state of Christianity is no surprise to the Lord.

In Mark 4:1-20, we learn three things through this parable. We learn about the sower, we learn about the reactions of the world, and we have our hearts revealed.

In verse 14, Jesus said, “The sower soweth the word.”

Matthew 13 identifies the sower as Christ Himself. Verse 14 in our passage today identifies the seed as the word. So, we see that our Lord Jesus Christ sows the word throughout the world (the field, also a symbol in this parable).

The word is the Gospel, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures. The Gospel includes the proper application of repentance and faith in Christ to benefit from salvation.

The Bible says the sower sows the word. He spreads the Gospel. And with the sower being our Lord Jesus Christ, we see that the primary mission of Christ not only included fulfilling the Gospel, but also spreading the word of the Gospel. During His earthly ministry, our Lord spread the word of the Gospel, as Mark 1:14 tells us Jesus came forth preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

For 3 1/2 years, Christ preached the Gospel as He conducted His ministry on Earth. Ever since then, He has spread the Gospel through His churches, whether that be through churches sponsoring missionaries, or whether that be through church members evangelizing the lost themselves.

Furthermore, the Lord sowed the Gospel seed indiscriminately. Seed was sown on good ground, thorny ground, stony ground, and by the wayside. Everyone got a chance to hear the Gospel. Likewise, the Gospel is being spread to all parts of the world today.

Seeing Christ as our example, and following the commands of scripture, we too should sow the seed of the Gospel. As the sower sowed the seed throughout the entire field, good ground or not, we, too, are to spread the Gospel to all people. We are to preach the word to everyone, not just those we deem worthy. We are to preach the word to everyone, whether they are receptive, would make good church members, or whether they wouldn’t. This is what the Lord commanded in Mark 16:15, when He said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

And as we preach, we should remember that we are not responsible for their reaction. Throughout this parable, you see the varied reactions to the Gospel. Some discard the truth as soon as they hear it, some are too distracted by the things of this world, some really dig the religion for a while, but never allow the Gospel to take root in their heart, and others fully receive it. We should not be surprised or discouraged by the rejection, and we should celebrate those whose lives are changed by the Gospel. However, we should never limit our efforts because we don’t feel that the soil is primed for planting, so to speak.

In the Parable of the Sower, the Lord showed us the different reactions the world has toward the Gospel so that we would understand what to expect as we spread the word. However, the Lord also gave us the Parable of the Sower so that we could examine our own hearts, and see whether we are ones who discard the Gospel, who are too distracted by the things of this world to allow it to take root, or whether our faith is superficial. The way we make this determination is to examine the fruit in our lives. Has the Gospel changed you?

That is an extremely important question, “Has the Gospel changed you?” Keep pondering that question and look within yourself for the fruits of that change. Meanwhile, we will continue our study into the parables of Christ over the next few weeks.

If you have any questions about the parables, or about salvation, feel free to contact us below.

When It Happens…

On Sunday, Sept. 16, 2001, there were very few empty seats in the churches across America. Over the prior week, Americans had seen the worst terrorist attack executed on the homeland in history. In the following days, we learned that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by a Middle-Eastern terrorist group called Al-Qaeda, and that we were almost certain to go to war in the Middle East.

Middle Eastern wars and world wars have a way of shaking us from our slumber, because they have the potential to fulfill Bible prophecy, which means the end times could be near, and judgment is coming.

Believing the end may have been near, and that judgment was coming, Americans flocked to their local churches to learn whether the attacks of the prior week had prophetic significance, and to learn how close we were to the end.

Within two weeks, fears of the end had subsided, and church attendance slipped back to normal.

There is something about seeing prophecy fulfilled, or believing that the Lord’s return is imminent, that drives people to sudden repentance and religion.

Such was the case in Mark 1:1-15. Mark opens his account of the Gospel by quoting Old Testament prophecies about the forerunner to Christ. In verses 2-3, he writes:

As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

These verses, taken from Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1, promised that before Christ came, His messenger would arrive and call the nation to repentance. Mark then went on to discuss how John the Baptist fulfilled this scripture:

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

-Mark 1:4-5

Seeing the messenger promised in the scriptures, the people flocked to John the Baptist to be baptized with the baptism of repentance in preparation of the coming of the Lord. Not long after that, Jesus came, was baptized of John, went into the wilderness, and re-emerged preaching repentance and belief in the Gospel.

In recording these events, Mark makes two observations. (1) Those events indicated that the Kingdom of God was about to arrive, and (2) with those events having happened years prior to his writing, we are even closer to the day of judgment than we were before.

Thus, Mark writes his Gospel with urgency, quoting Jesus Christ as He called the nation to repentance.

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The words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 are not only the theme of the Gospel of Mark, but they are the sum of the Lord’s teaching. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

The Lord warns us that the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.

What does it mean, “The time is fulfilled?”

If you have ever baked cookies, or even heated a frozen pizza in the oven, you have likely set a timer according to the instructions on the box. When that timer goes off, the time has been fulfilled, and your cookies or pizza is now ready.

When Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled,” He essentially said, “Time’s up! Time to repent. The Kingdom is here.”

We tend to live life as if we have all the time in the world to straighten out our Spiritual matters. Within two weeks after 9/11, we collectively decided that Jesus was not coming back, yet, and thus we quit going to church. We tend to put off Spiritual decisions, commitments to Christ, and resolve to take on those decisions on a more convenient day, which somehow never seems to come.

However, the day will come when our time will be up. And that day is closer than you think.

Whether Jesus comes back tomorrow, or whether he comes back next century, you are still closer than you think to judgment day, for scripture tells us, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).” While I could tell you stories of people who passed away unexpectedly before their time, the truth is, even if you live to be 100, the end of your life will arrive faster than you think. Consider how fast your life has passed by up until now.

Therefore, we need to place urgency upon our Spiritual lives, and bring ourselves into alignment with the will of God sooner rather than later.

After pointing out the time-sensitive nature of our Spiritual lives, Jesus then called us to repent.

To repent means to change your mind regarding your sin, abhorring the sins of the past, and making the changes in your life so that you never go back into that life of sin. This goes beyond sorrow for sin. It includes a decision, and a change to never allow yourself to be owned by that sin again.

This practice is commonly seen by alcoholics and recovering drug addicts. Sorrowful for the way they’ve destroyed their lives with drug/alcohol abuse, they resolve to never allow that to happen again. Therefore, they avoid certain places, people and things that could trigger a relapse. The repentant sinner would do well to follow this pattern.

Jesus then called us to believe the Gospel.

The Gospel is defined as how Christ died for our sin, according to the scriptures, was buried, and rose again, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Our hope, our confident expectation of salvation and heaven comes not from anything we’ve done, or overcome, but rather what Christ did on the cross. His death on the cross paid our sin debt and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. Being willing to completely trust that, we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.

Christ called us to repent and believe, and so we should. Our salvation experience is not only a life-changing event, it is a total life change.

Seeing then that our time is short, and Christ called us to repent and believe, we should do a self-assessment. Have you repented and believed? Are you saved? Are you different now than you were before?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then it is time to get right with the Lord. Go to Him in prayer. Confess your sins to Him. Ask forgiveness. Trust Him to save you based on His work on the cross. Then, as you arise from that prayer, make the changes in your life to leave sin behind.

If you need encouragers to rally around you during this time, we’d love to help at Life Point Baptist Church. Contact us, or come visit our services. We’d love to be there for you during this important time.

What stops love?

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The one obstacle to following the Biblical command to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love our enemies, is fear.

The Biblical commandments to love go beyond a tender affection toward others. The Biblical command to love involves putting that love into action. Indeed, the very meaning of agape love indicates that a personal sacrifice is made on behalf of the recipient of love.

This bears out in the way Christ taught us to love. In Luke 6:30, He says, “Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” Then, in Luke 6:35, Jesus says, “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

While we want to follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, the idea of loving so sacrificially can carry with it the fear that our love will not be returned, or even worse, those we help will turn around and hurt us. We fear the result would leave us empty handed, and looking foolish.

There’s not a person alive who hasn’t loved someone who in turn rejected or betrayed them. It’s not a good feeling. It can leave one jaded, angry, and fearful to love again. To find yourself in that state is to find yourself in a dark place.

Yet, we worship the Light of the world. Jesus Christ shined His light into darkness, dispelling sin, degradation and hopelessness. Perhaps our focus should be on the Light, as opposed to the possible darkness.

Fear of love comes from not trusting the Lord to work in the situation. It comes from not seeing the redemptive power of love, and not trusting the Lord to work through the love toward the redemption and well-being of the one loved. Without that faith, one can only see the risk, and the possible negative consequences.

Love is not a risk. Love is not a gamble. It’s not even an investment. Love is a promise. While the one to whom you show agape may reject or betray you, the Lord promises to bless you for that love.

You see, when you focus on the Lord as you show love to your neighbors and enemies, the same people He loves, then the risk of rejection and betrayal is no longer as big of a deal. It may still happen, but it’s secondary to the fellowship you build with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the process. Furthermore, it’s secondary to the change and reconciliation that can come as a result of your love toward others.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., may not have changed the hearts of segregationalists and white supremacists in the South. Indeed, his efforts landed him in jail on multiple occasions, and even saw him assaulted numerous times. Yet, when we discuss the legacy of Dr. King, we don’t say, “There lived a man who was beaten and jailed.” We say, “There’s a man who forever changed our nation for the better.”

Was the change he made worth the suffering he endured? If he were alive today, I think he would say yes.

Let’s elevate this conversation.

Jesus Christ loves sinners. He loved the publicans and the sinners, and dined with them many times. Scripture teaches that He loves all people. The Lord, who loved people, took on the form of a person, and came and lived among us. He came to save us. Yet, mankind rejected Him, beat and tortured Him, then killed Him in the most brutal way possible.

Yet, His love for us, which propelled Him to the cross, accomplished something no one understood at the time. His death on that cross satisfied the need for judgment, and thus our sins are forgiven if we believe on Him.

He loved. He was rejected. He suffered. Yet, His love redeemed us. For Christ, was it worth it? In scripture, He says, “Yes.”

So, in Luke 6:38, Jesus says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Far too often this verse is interpreted that we will be materially rewarded for love. In reality, this verse promises that your love will not be in vain, and by loving, you could very well change the world.

Love your neighbors and enemies, and keep your eyes on the BIG picture.

Leland Acker is the pastor of Life Point Baptist Church. Life Point meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m. Services are held at the Early Chamber of Commerce building at 104 E. Industrial in Early. This week, Bro. Waymon Childress will bring the morning message. 

When God is distant

Have you ever found yourself in a place where God seemed distant, or silent? Perhaps you’ve experienced troubles in your life, and you can’t feel God’s presence. Perhaps you look at the condition of this world, and wonder if God even cares.

That is where Jacob was in Genesis 28. Jacob had to flee for his life after tricking Isaac into giving him the family’s blessing. His brother Esau sought Jacob’s life, and Jacob knew that there was no chance for living in peace back home.

So, with the blessing of Isaac, his father, he lit out for Haran to live with kinfolk, and to find a wife. In Genesis 28, he stopped for the night in Luz. Sleeping outside, he made a pillow of stones, and rested. As he slept, he dreamed of a ladder reaching into Heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it. Standing at the top of the ladder was the Lord God.

Standing at the top of the ladder, God introduced Himself as the LORD God of Abraham and Isaac. Though Abraham had died, God was still His God, as Abraham was alive in Heaven. Though Abraham had died, God was still alive. He did not die with Abraham.

God also identified Himself as the God of Isaac, who still lived. Not only did God still live, He was still involved in the things of the world. Jacob likely felt that God was distant. God assured him that He was working His plan.

In this episode of The Point, we see how God reaffirms His presence and plan, how God reaffirms the covenant and promises salvation, and how God promises His blessing on His people.

Promise in the Dark

The sky is always darkest before the dawn.

When there is no hope, when all is lost, when your personal destruction is imminent, God shows up, and saves the day.

Isaiah 7 was written during a very dark time in Israel’s history. Due to sin, immorality and idolatry, the kingdom had been split into two, and the southern king, Ahaz, had just learned that the northern kingdom had allied with Syria to come up against Jerusalem. King Ahaz felt that his forces would be unable to stop the assault from the north, and his days were numbered.

It was at that time that Isaiah gave the prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

To say that Israel’s destruction was self-inflicted would be an understatement. For generations, God gave them time to turn from their sin, and return to worshiping Him. Instead, they chose to continue in idolatry, worshiping gods that didn’t exist, as opposed to the true God that brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land. Their idolatry gave way to rampant immorality, and by the time foreign armies showed up at their borders, they were completely incapable of self-defense. Yet, in that pathetic state, God told them that He was not done with them. In Isaiah 7:14, He not only promised them the Christ, but He also promised to once again dwell with them. “Immanuel,” properly interpreted, means “God with us.” Despite their sin, and their self-destruction, God still loved them, would restore them, and would once again dwell with them and be their God.

All too often, we see destruction in our lives because of our own sin. Sin can destroy your health, your finances, you marriage, family, home and reputation. Sin has cost some everything they had in life. Yet, even in that situation, God hasn’t given up on you. The Bible teaches that if you turn from that sin, and turn toward the Lord, He will not only save you from your sin, but He will restore fellowship with you, and begin to rebuild your life for you.

Come visit with us Sunday morning at 11 a.m. as we study the implications Isaiah 7:14 has on our lives, and see the true hope of Christmas. Grace Pointe meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., morning worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility at 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802. We hope to see you there.

Christmas Is About Hope

Christmas 2014Thanksgiving is behind us, and we survived the madness of Black Friday. At this time, we begin hanging our Christmas lights, and start a month-long celebration of Christmas. Every year, the retail industry celebrates their biggest sales months of the year, while Christians commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

A more scholarly preacher might be tempted to lament that Jesus wasn’t really born in December, and that this celebration arises out of man’s traditions. I, on the other hand, prefer not to be a killjoy. While we don’t really know when Christ was born (some do offer good theories), the fact of the matter is that He was born. His birth was so important to God that He inspired Matthew and Luke to write about it. If God celebrated it in two different books of the Bible, and foretold it in the Book of Isaiah, then it makes sense that we should celebrate the birth of Christ today. Further, it makes sense that the celebration should last an entire month. In fact, it doesn’t really bother me that we begin rolling out the Christmas stuff in September… all the more opportunity to bring attention to our Lord.

When you read about the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1-2, and in Luke 1-2, you will notice the writers pay special attention to pointing out the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus Christ. From that fact, we learn that Christmas is about God keeping His promise, and that we can draw hope from the Lord, knowing that God keeps His promise.

In Isaiah 9:6, the Bible says “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.” In that verse, God made a promise to the nation of Israel, and more specifically, the southern kingdom of Judah. His promise was, though the nation was in decline due to sin and idolatry, He would send Christ, who would bring salvation, and restore the Kingdom. The birth of Christ is the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.

So, every time you see a Christmas decoration, a Nativity scene, a banner proclaiming that “Jesus is the Reason for the season,” remember the promise God made, and kept.

Furthermore, Isaiah 9:6 is the key verse for our Christmas series this year, “And His Name Shall Be Called.” Join us as we learn of God’s promise and hope, by studying the names attributed to Christ around His birth. We hope to see you there.

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., Morning Worship at 11 a.m., at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, Texas, 76802.

In Christ,

Pastor Leland Acker

Jesus Never Stumbled (Why Everything I Thought About Simon the Cyrenian Was Wrong)

For a long time, I have been fascinated with the story of Simon the Cyrenian, the man whom the Roman soldiers forced to help Jesus carry His cross up the hill of Golgotha. Now, just about every Christian will tell you that Simon was compelled to carry the cross of Jesus after the Lord collapsed of physical exhaustion after hours of torture and beatings. In fact, if you visit the city of Jerusalem, they have marked the “Via Dolorosa,” the path that many believed Jesus followed as He carried the cross. Three of those stations are allegedly places where Jesus fell, and one is Station 5, where the Romans forced Simon to help Jesus carry His cross.

The problem with the traditional “Via Dolorosa” is that the path leads through the city, and the Bible states that the soldiers led Jesus out of the city to a place that is called “Golgotha,” or “The place of the skull.” And contrary to what I grew up believing, Jesus never stumbled as He carried the cross.

Matthew 27:31-32 says “And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.”

After the Roman soldiers beat and scourged Jesus, they led Him out of the Antonia Fortress, and immediately compelled Simon to help Jesus carry His cross. So, the tradition that Jesus fell, and as a result, Simon was drafted into service has no root in scripture. None of the four Gospels describe a fall of Jesus prior to Simon’s involvement. Furthermore, none of the four Gospels record a single fall of Jesus. Which means that the idea that Jesus stumbled and fell as He carried the cross to Golgotha is completely based on tradition, and not scripture.

So, why is this important? Simple.

Tradition paints a picture of a Jesus whose humanity had overcome Him, thus He was too weak to carry His cross up the hill for the crucifixion. Scripture shows us the real Jesus, Who, despite the beatings and scourging, was determined to get up that hill and be crucified. Why? Because getting up that hill and on that cross was the only way to pay for your sins, and save your soul. The love of Jesus propelled Him up that hill, wounds and all, so that He could save you.

As for Simon? He observed a Passover celebration that year that no one would ever forget. Mark 15:21 says “And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.” Simon had just come in from out of the country, likely to celebrate the Passover. What wound up happening, however, was that He accompanied the Lamb of God to the sacrifice that would ultimately take away the sins of the world.

I don’t know if Simon believed in Jesus before this moment, but I believe he became a believer afterward. I believe Simon was a key figure in the early church, as his two sons were well-known enough to be referenced by Mark as he recorded the crucifixion of Christ. Simon was going about business as usual, until he was met by Christ, and then was forever changed.

What about you? Have you met Christ? Did it change your life

Why Our Mission Involved The Early Pioneer Days

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Bro. John Melancon demonstrates Bible artifacts to a festival-goer at the Early Pioneer Days.

Saturday at the Pioneer Days celebration in Early, Texas, festival goers enjoyed angus beef hamburgers, kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and balloon animals. As they strolled through the festival booths, they came upon our booth, featuring Bible archaeologist John Melancon. Bro. Melancon demonstrated the artifacts that he collected during archaeological digs in the Holy Land, related them to scripture, and then discussed Bible truths, particularly the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins.

Some may wonder  why a church would go through the expense, time and effort of hosting a festival booth at a local carnival, without the benefit of a fund-raiser. It’s really quite simple. It’s part of our mission at Grace Pointe.

The day is coming when we will all stand before the Lord, who will judge us and determine whether we are received into His Kingdom (Heaven), or whether we are condemned for eternity (Hell). He will judge us based on two criteria… (1) Have we broken God’s law? and (2) Has the penalty for our sin been paid?

We have all broken God’s law. We have all sinned. We have all told lies, we have all taken something that didn’t belong to us, we have all failed at one point in our lives to love the Lord and worship God. By the definition of the law given in the 10 Commandments, we are all guilty of breaking God’s law, and sinning (Romans 3:23). Scripture declares that the penalty for sin is death and condemnation (Romans 6:23). So, on that part of the judgment, we will all be found guilty (Romans 3:19).

The question will then be the status of your punishment. When Jesus died on the cross, He not only suffered for a cause, and stood His ground as a noble leader, He took the punishment for our sins from God. Isaiah 53:11 says “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”

While He was on that cross, Jesus endured the wrath of God that was caused by our sin. He took our punishment for us (1 John 2:2). The question is, whether that payment for sins has been credited to your account. Such a transaction happens when you repent of your sins, and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior (Romans 4). If you have been found to have your sins paid, because you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you will be received into Heaven. If the payment for sins has not been credited to your account, because you have not accepted Christ as your Savior, you will be condemned to an eternity in Hell (John 3:36).

It’s that last part that propels our public outreach at local festivals. We’re not there to ruin a good time, and we are not there to make a name for ourselves, or raise funds. We are there to get in touch with people we would not otherwise get to meet, so that we can warn all people to flee God’s wrath and be saved by trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior.

It’s our prayer that all who hear our presentation of the Gospel will repent and trust Jesus Christ as Savior.

Sunday morning, we will study Luke 16, and learn about Hell by expounding on the passage about the rich man and Lazarus. Service starts at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there.

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX 76802.