Kingdom of God

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

Why Our Mission Involved The Early Pioneer Days

WP_20141018_001

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.

On the Passing of Robin Williams…

In the 1998 song, “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” Baz Luhrmann said, “Don’t worry about the future. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” Things happen that catch us unprepared, like learning that a celebrity that you looked up to passed away suddenly, without warning.

As I type these words, the world is coming to grips with the passing of Robin Williams, who brought Mork (from Mork and Mindy), Mrs. Doubtfire, and Genie (from Aladdin) to life. His stand-up comedy was as raunchy as it was funny. His on-screen roles could have you rolling on the floor, laughing, or could have you wiping away tears from your eyes. 

This is a man, who, legend has it, was kicked out of Julliard for being too brilliant. Right now, the social media sphere is mixed with mourning for Williams, and remembrances of his performances. In times like this, sadness can overtake a person.

Yet, it’s in times like these that we are reminded of the hope we have as Christians. The mind of Robin Williams was brilliant, a testament to the animation that God has given us. Some say that the world evolved to what it is today by the slow progression of evolution, yet that explanation cannot explain the animation of the human spirit. No other species is creative, nor does any other species build upon past accomplishments. This animation is unique to mankind, because the Bible teaches us that God created us in His image. The mind of God is brilliant and creative, and He blessed us with that same quality when He created us. Genesis Chapter 2 records that God breathed the breath of life into man… unlike the animals, which were merely spoken into existence. 

God created us for His honor and glory, a glory that will be fully realized when we enter into His Kingdom. It’s true. One day, all who know Christ as Savior will enter into His Kingdom and live forever.  It has to be true, otherwise there is no hope, no point to life. 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 say:

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to say that Christ is indeed risen from the grave, and we have hope that one day we will be reunited with Him in His Kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that to be absent from the body (dead, or asleep in Christ) is to be present with the Lord. This is the hope that we have as Christians, and this is what keeps us going. 

Therefore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the place… Heaven.

Furthermore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the man. Jesus Christ died for our sins, taking the punishment we deserved, erasing our guilt, and then rose again so that we can live with Him eternally in His Kingdom. 1 John 2:1-2 tell us that Jesus Christ is the propitiation (payment) for our sins. Romans 5 tells us that we access that salvation by faith in Christ. Those who wish to be saved, and to be received into Heaven must give up the notion that they can somehow live up to a standard, and be welcomed into Heaven based on their merit as a good person. The Apostle Paul (the greatest missionary in history) wrote in Romans 7 that “in me dwells no good thing.” If the Apostle Paul couldn’t be classified as a good person and be received into Heaven on his merit, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

To go to Heaven, you need to look to the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid your way into Heaven, and He’ll gladly receive you into Heaven, you just have to trust Him. Isaiah 45:22 says “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”  That’s all the Lord wants… you’re repentance, and your faith. He wants you to trust Him. All who believe will be saved, and will be received into His Kingdom forever.

Now this assurance for our own salvation, and our hope for things to come is all well and good, but our mind often drifts back to the current situation in which we find ourselves… mourning the loss of a friend, mentor, family member, or celebrity hero. To cope with this, we must have faith in the plan. God has set the events of human history into motion, and did so long before any of us walked on the face of the planet. Everything He is bringing about in our lives is setting the stage for His Kingdom coming to this Earth, and for us to live with Him in that Kingdom eternally. So, as these things happen, we need to remember that God is working all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to God’s glory (Romans 8:18). 

It’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry, but as you do, remember that God has a plan, He is working that plan, and He holds you in the palm of His hand… if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, then you haven’t accessed this hope that God has made available. Turn from your sins, and trust Jesus Christ to save you based on his death on the cross, and you will be saved. If you have any questions, you can email me at GracePointeMBC@gmail.com.

May God bless you, and comfort you this evening.

Sincerely, 

Leland Acker, pastor of Grace Pointe MBC.

Where Did Heaven Go?

Whether you sing the hymns and choruses in church, listen to the pastor, or tune into radio and TV programs, you may have noticed that modern theology has gotten away from teaching about Heaven. While there is some great preaching and teaching on salvation, repentance, family life, Jesus Christ, and the attributes of God, it seems that modern teachers have gotten away from the topic of Heaven. 

One of the primary reasons for this is the hectic pace of today’s lifestyle. Competent preachers and teachers realize that they only have their congregation’s attention for a short amount of time. Seeing the limited opportunity, the preacher will focus on salvation, discipleship, and issues that the Christian and seeker will need to see their lives changed.

However, to overlook Heaven is to overlook one of the main reasons for our hope. You see, Christianity is not just about being saved from God’s wrath. Christianity is about being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. The promise of salvation is that we will not only be delivered from the condemnation of sin, but that we will also see our pain and suffering ended, and will see the glories of Heaven that will erase the memory of any pain we had here on Earth.

How often do you think about life after death? Do you know what eternity holds for you after this life is over?