June 09, 2019

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ — Acts 17:24-28

June 02, 2019

Here, in chapter 16 of the Book of Acts, Paul recruits another co-laborer in Christ: Timothy. Timothy, Paul’s great young disciple, is an example of perseverance for all of us. And through their relationship, we see Paul and Timothy demonstrate the best discipleship method: doing the work of ministry together. And Paul’s method was patterned after that of Jesus, as is clearly seen in Matthew 4:19…”Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

May 26, 2019

In the early church, there was much discord regarding Gentile Christians and the Mosaic law, and the Jerusalem Council resolved to settle these disputes. The central issue was whether Gentiles needed to first become Jews and follow Jewish ceremonial laws in order to be considered Christians. The Jewish law had some basic moral provisions and some that were more “ceremonial” in nature, such as some of the following: circumcision, kosher food requirements, laws involving external purity, and various kinds of sacrifices and festivals. The big challenge was this: Some of these laws were problematic for Gentiles, in that it was virtually impossible for them to live in their Gentile communities and adhere to some of the laws. Here, in the 15th chapter of Acts, Peter clearly states that faith in Jesus Christ and the grace of the Lord are the basis of salvation, not the law. Certainly, that is good news for us Gentiles. In fact, Peter makes plain that the law was a yoke that the Jews themselves had been unable to bear.

May 19, 2019

Are you sure of your faith? Are you sure that Jesus Christ is God, and your Messiah? Do YOU believe that? Are you able to defend your faith, or are you easily swayed from the Truth? Our faith in Christ and God’s Word are the most important things we need in this life, and we need to be absolutely certain in our belief of them. Are we truly pursuing our spiritual growth, as we ought to? Spiritual growth and maturity are essential to the Christian believer. And that is only possible with constant training through the Word of God. To quote christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin, “You and I were made to worship”. The capacity and desire to worship is hard-wired within us. But where (or to whom) are we directing our worship? We might worship money, our careers, our possessions, or even our children. But whatever we worship that is not God, is an idol. At times, we are all guilty of misdirecting our worship to “vain” or” worthless things”, as the Apostle Paul would say. Our worship must be turned toward the True and Living God. Our journey through the Book of Acts continues in chapter 14, as Pastor Ben delivers this 24th message in the series. 

May 12, 2019

A mother’s love... It’s a love like no other. There are many different kinds of love. And if you’ve been in church for a while, you’ve probably heard the differing Greek words that translate as “love”. “Phileo”, a brotherly love, or a deep love between friends. “Eros”,  the romantic type of love. “Storge” may be somewhat less familiar; it is a familial type of love. And, of course, “Agape”. That’s the love of God. Unconditional. Agape is love because of what it does, and not what it feels. Agape prompts action. It is about commitment, not necessarily about feeling. A mother’s love is probably the closest to agape that we are likely to experience, here on this earth. But, in reality, it cannot be accurately conveyed with words. It is a steadfast love. Mothers are heroes to their children. The role of the godly mother is one of selflessness and sacrifice; it is a calling. It is the closest approximation of the example Christ set before us, during his earthly ministry. It is both incredibly fulfilling, and incredibly painful.

May 05, 2019

Prayer and fasting are spiritual disciplines. Although in all honesty,  fasting may be the most neglected of the disciplines within a baptist church; we do like to eat. Prayer along with fasting, however, are incredibly important. They help us to focus our attention on the voice of God, and to increase our level of devotion. The voice of God is often small, and if we’re not careful, we can lose it in the din of life. We may never hear His voice, if we are not intentional in seeking to deepen our relationship with Him, seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When God is leading and guiding, He will open incredible doors. Consider that Matthew 4:2 shows us the example Jesus set for us; Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights, before beginning his ministry. These disciplines are for giving us direction, for keeping us within God's will. And His will for us is that we remain in commune with Him.

April 28, 2019

One could argue that Christians are the most persecuted of all the world's religious groups. Why would this be? It's because the prince of this world, or Satan, has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. This is quite plainly made known in the books of the Bible. The New Testament books of Ephesians and Revelation are a couple that immediately come to mind. Taking a look at the most persecuted regions of the Earth reveals that these are also the regions in which Christianity is actually flourishing. Keep these brothers and sisters in prayer, because it is God's intervention that is causing the Kingdom to grow. It is by His strength that these believers are sustained, allowing them to remain faithful and persevere in the midst of this onslaught by the enemy. And, most certainly, this same persecution is coming to America. Jesus said that we should expect it, and some would say it's already here. The current political, judicial, and societal climate in America would indicate that this is, in fact, the case. And it always gets worse, before it gets better. But, we know that it does get better… we've read the end of the story. 

April 21, 2019

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” — Revelation 4:11 (ESV). We are the greatest of His creation, but sometimes we foolishly and pridefully think that we are complete in and of ourselves. But without Him, we are nothing. We are created to worship, not to be worshiped. What would cause you to bend your knee, to bow before the creator of the universe? While it may be a good place to start, it takes a bit more that an appearance at church on Easter and/or Christmas to make us right with God. Actually, there’s nothing at all that we can do to make us right with God. It is only by the Blood of the Lamb that we are justified before our Almighty God. Christ freely and selflessly sacrificed Himself for us… He ransomed you and me, ”while we were yet sinners.” And today we celebrate His resurrection from the grave. If that isn’t cause for bended knee, then what is?

April 14, 2019

Christian. It was the name given by the Romans authorities, probably meant as an insult, to the followers of Jesus and was first used at Antioch. Literally, it means “Christlike.” A Christian not only professes a belief in Jesus as the Christ, but also manifests the qualities or spirit of Christ. Carefully consider the following question: Would your co-workers, neighbors, family, friends… those in your life outside of our faith community call you a “Christian” because of your distinctly different life, or mostly because you have self-designated that you are a “Christian?” A Christian is a faithful follower of Christ. And what does it mean to be faithful? Jesus sums it up nicely in Mathew 22:37, where He says, “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Today is Palm Sunday, so it is a good day to ask yourself, “How am I doing with my faithfulness?”

April 07, 2019

Contrary to what popular culture may have to say about the subject, all roads do not lead to heaven; there’s only one. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The only hope for salvation, is through faith in Jesus Christ, and the Bible makes that perfectly clear. It's not who your daddy is. It's not where you were born, where you live, or what the color of your skin may be. It's not even how good of a person you may be. The earliest Christians were who? Jews who had converted from Judaism.  While the Jews were God’s chosen people, and they received the Gospel first, they missed a key truth. God is calling to all peoples, and all nations. And He wants for us to be unified in Christ. We see in the scriptures that the Jewish converts didn't get it. Not even the apostle Peter. They viewed the gentiles as unworthy of the Gospel. But, Peter received divine revelation that God grants salvation to all people, irrespective of ethnic or religious background. And as proof of that, we see the Holy Spirit being poured out onto the Gentile believers in Acts chapter 10. This was a new, fuller understanding of the gospel for Peter and for the church and it challenged many religious and ethnic boundaries that had been in place for the Jewish people for centuries. Acts 10:34-35 says, “So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’”

March 31, 2019

Psalm 42:5-6 — "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." What we see from the psalmist, is that he is preaching to himself. It is important to be preached to, but it also even more important that we become preachers and preach the word of the cross to ourselves every day. Are you joyful? Or joyless? Through the cross, God purchased and secured every possible blessing that would ever be needed to make us happy forever. The word of the cross— “the Gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4) —is the main source for truth about who God is, what God has done, and what God had pledged to do. These are the great discouragement slayers that are birthed from a true grasp of the gospel. It is the cross of Christ alone, and constant meditation upon His great love for us, that can kill the joy-killers in our lives.

March 24, 2019

In Genesis 1:3, it is written, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Have you ever paused to consider the implications of that? He spoke, and it came to be. Do we stop to ponder the meaning of truths, such as this? Or, do we gloss over them? The Psalmist stated it perfectly in the words of Psalm 145:3… “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” If we're honest with ourselves, we cannot even begin to imagine the greatness God, His infinite nature. Do you marvel at the power and majesty God? God is moving mightily in our day and in our midst; His work didn't stop at Creation.  As much as we may be inclined to think of ourselves (and we are the greatest of His creation), the greatness of God is beyond our ability to fully grasp. But, through meditation on the Word and the majesty of God, we can get a glimpse of it. For it is in Him, and through Him, that we have our being. Without Him, we do not exist.

March 17, 2019

Upon Paul’s unlikely conversion, he goes from being a persecutor of the disciples, to being a disciple, himself. Within  days, Paul is proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, and proving to the people that Jesus is the Christ. We learned, last week, that God had chosen Paul as His instrument to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he begins his mission in Arabia. In fact, Paul becomes so effective in his ministry that the Jews actually plot to kill him. And, in a total role reversal, it is the Christians of Damascus who protect Paul from persecution. Upon his return to Jerusalem, he was (understandably) greeted with skepticism. But, he found an powerful advocate in Barnabas, who testified as to the genuineness of his conversion. Barnabas’ love for Paul became a catalyst for much more ministry between the two, and Barnabas clearly saw in Paul the emergence of a powerful leader for God’s kingdom. God moved mightily through Paul, in his ministry to the Gentiles. And the Kingdom advances beyond Jerusalem, to the ends of the earth.

March 10, 2019

An unlikely convert. A person you might think is so far from God, that there is no possible way for a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. You probably know a few…perhaps even you are (or were) one. The church is full of them. There are certainly many unlikely converts in the New Testament. Today, we learn that God had an incredible plan for Paul (Saul), who was perhaps the most zealous persecutor of the Christian church. By the Grace of God, Paul's dramatic conversion experience occurred on the road to Damascus…while on his way to murder more Christians. In an instant, he was radically transformed. Paul was God's chosen instrument to bring the Gospel to the gentiles, and as an enemy of the Church, who could possibly have a more powerful testimony? Is there someone in your life who is so lost, so far from God, that you think to be irredeemable? God placed that person in your life. Could it be that you are God's chosen instrument to bring the Gospel to that person?

March 03, 2019

Life can be chaotic. And it's loud. There are many voices, vying for your attention: friends & family, news and social media, TV and Hollywood. Above the din, are you hearing to the Voice of God? Are you listening for Him? Do you want to hear His voice, or are you trying to avoid Him? Do you have a hunger to serve and obey Him, or have you lost it? If you will choose to listen, He is speaking…speaking to you. If ever there was an unmistakable example of one with a heart for God, an example of one listening for His voice, certainly it would be Philip. Of course, he is not the only example in the Bible. But, today, we'll learn of how his obedience had far-reaching impacts for the Kingdom. And all it took was a willingness to listen, and then obey, the Voice of God.  You never know what great things God may accomplish through your faithfulness. He wants to use you. Are you listening?

February 24, 2019

The persecution of the early church only intensified, after the stoning of Stephen, and it did nothing to stop the proclamation of the Gospel. Rather, it actually lead to the spread of the Good News!!! This week, we learn of Philip’s work among the Samaritans. They were looking for hope, looking to fill the God-shaped hole in their hearts, and the Gospel was readily accepted by many. Among them, was Simon the Sorcerer, and Luke said that “even Simon himself believed.” He believed in the power, signs, and miracles of God. But, did he believe that Jesus was the Messiah? Is there a “believing” that does not equate to being saved? Join Pastor Ben as he guides us on our continuing journey through the Book of Acts. Prepare to be challenged.

February 10, 2019

God is sovereign even in persecution and suffering. Intense persecution caused the early church in Jerusalem to become scattered. Jesus told them beforehand, that this was to be. Jesus’ words to this end were recorded in Luke: 13-13. “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake.  This will be your opportunity to bear witness.” And bear witness, they did. In the midst of horrific persecution, they continued to proclaim the Gospel. Their love for Jesus and the Gospel was greater than their love of the world. Very often they were beaten,  imprisoned, and lost everything: homes, families, possessions, even their lives. That is a radical devotion. The harsh reality is that Christian suffering has historically been one of the greatest means by which God advances His kingdom in our lost world. Do you love and cherish Jesus so much, that you would be willing to endure this kind of persecution?  

February 03, 2019

Stephen was one of the “Seven” that we learned about, last week. One of the first deacons of the church. He was also the first follower of Christ to die a martyr’s death. Stephen had been elected to serve as one of the next generation of leaders in the early church. He was a man “full of grace and power,” and was one through whom God “was doing great wonders and signs among the people.” And we see that he was as bold and knowledgeable as any of the apostles in regard to proclaiming the truth, regardless of what it may cost him. This story of Stephen, does it remind you of anyone? In some ways, the martyrdom of Stephen parallels the death of Christ. Like Christ, Stephen was called to testify before the Sanhedrin, and falsely accused. Stephen made a choice. He chose to speak the truth about God fully aware that his decision could cost him his life. And it did. Stephen follows Jesus’ example, even emulating His final words as he enters eternity: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After his conversation experience, the theme of Paul's life was "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Stephen proved to be a stunning example of this. God has given each of us a race to run. Are you running yours in a manner worthy of the Gospel? Worthy of the sacrifice Christ made for you? Stephen surely did. His was a life well lived, and well finished!

January 27, 2019

It didn't take long, before problems arose in the early church. The church was growing exponentially, and when a large group of people gather together, what inevitably happens? Disunity, and grumbling. These two problems were huge challenges faced by the early church, and the apostles acted decisively regarding them both. People problems can derail a church, rather quickly. Godly leadership keeps it’s God-given priorities in perspective, and the number one priority of their ministry was discipleship. They did not allow preferences to take priority over the mission. The solution was to multiply leadership, and they needed these men of God to serve. They did not impose a solution, rather they invited the congregation to be part of the solution, by selecting seven capable, servant-minded, godly men. These men would become the first deacons of the church, freeing the apostles to devote themselves to prayer, discipleship, teaching, and advancing the Gospel; in other words, fulfilling the Great Commission. Join Pastor Ben as he begins to guide us through the 6th chapter of Acts.

January 20, 2019

Life is hard, and in the process, we sometimes suffer. Sometimes we suffer because of mistakes we have made. Often times we don't know why, at all. But suffering for the Name of Jesus is not the same. The gospel is repulsive to some, because it exposes a sinful nature. The prideful, arrogant, and self-centered don't want to hear it. So, sometimes we suffer so that we may be a testimony to those around us. Why did the Sadducees continue to persecute Peter, John, and the followers of Christ? They were threatened by the prospect of a loss of power. The leaders were jealous of the followers of Christ and afraid of the people, for the people were hearing the truth and they recognized it as such. How can someone rejoice in their suffering? Jesus proclaimed that He had come to suffer and to die for us. There is no other message like this one. The Apostles show us how a Christian can truly have joy even in suffering, particularly when the focus of one’s life is the wholehearted pursuit of God’s mission. We see that that they found it to be an honor to share in Christ’ suffering. How might our hearts be changed if we focused on that, rather than our circumstances? To see ourselves as worthy of suffering for the name of Christ. 

January 13, 2019

Thus far, in the Book of Acts, we have seen God's glory on display. The believers in the early church were experiencing God’s power in unbelievable ways, as the church grew exponentially. And yet, sin crept in. Now, in Acts 5, we learn some important lessons about God's judgement, from Luke's account of the deception of Ananias and Sapphira.  When reading this story, do you tend to focus on God's judgement, rather than on the unmerited grace of God? God didn’t tolerate evil and deception among his people. They chose to be deceitful. They wanted glory for themselves. This event reminds us that all believers must fear God, knowing that we are accountable to Him who is holy, omniscient, and almighty. God knew the motives of their hearts, and He knows the motives of yours and mine, too. He knows why you do what you do. Have you really experienced the radical love of God? Have you experienced the love that you do not deserve? Why did (or would) God save you? Do you wrestle with that question? Often times we are no longer amazed by grace, but rather we are shocked by divine justice.
Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…

January 06, 2019

In the last installment of Pastor Ben's study of the Book of Acts, we looked at the healing of the lame man outside the temple. Peter and John have now been arrested and are before the ruling council, the Sanhedrin. This is the same body of men who interrogated Jesus, before delivering Him to Pontius Pilate. They did not let their fear paralyze them, or prevent them from boldly proclaiming Christ crucified. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter did just that. And the men of the council could not refute his testimony. Instead, they admonished Peter and John and commanded that they cease teaching the people in the name of Jesus. After their release, Peter and John immediately joined the believers in prayer, and they prayed for even more boldness with which to continue sharing the Gospel of Christ!

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. — Acts 4:31

God was so pleased with Peter's prayer, that He shook the building!

Do we have desperate prayers, like Peter's? The world around us is suffering. The world around us needs to hear the message of Christ crucified. Do we pray for boldness to witness to those around us, or are we paralyzed in our fear?

December 30, 2018

2018 has come to an end, already, and this is the time when we start setting goals and making resolutions for the New Year. Among other things, we resolve to be more self-controlled, self-disciplined, self-reliant, self-motivated, more loving, more reliable, etc. To state it succinctly, more successful. And, those are not necessarily bad goals. The problem is that they are inwardly focused; they rely on the self as the source of change. But, in reality, we can do nothing apart from God’s power. And Jesus tells us as much in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” And Paul, the titan of the faith, knew this and had this to say in Romans 7: 18, “… I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” So, what if we were to turn it around and shift our focus from ourselves, and instead focus on the real source of the change that we desire? In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord tells Paul (and us, of course), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In who’s weakness? In ours. Paul got it, and in the next verse he tells us, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” You see, God’s glory is on display when He does a work in us that brings about change. So, what if we were to turn it around and adopt Paul’s mindset, in this New Year? What if we resolved to rely on God as the source of our strength and direction, our source of change, instead of ourselves? Will we “allow” God to display His power in us through our weakness? Will we make room for God to bring forth the change in our lives that we so desperately need?

December 23, 2018

There is an ongoing effort to remove Christ from Christmas, and from society in general. We see it all around us, and is nothing new. It has been in process for decades, or even longer, and is more than just a cultural shift. It hasn’t just happened on its own. This is brought about through demonic influence, most assuredly. In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis gives an imaginative account of how Satan might work to lure believers away from Christ, and misdirect our focus during this time of year. While the account may be a fictional one, the points made in it are very real. Christ was not born so that we may eat, drink, and be merry while enjoying the season with our families. Those things are not inherently bad, but why are we doing them? Christ was born so that He may die, and in so doing, set the captives free! That’s what we should be celebrating in everything we do, particularly at this time of the year! And who are these captives, and what are they captive to? Why, they are you and me. And without Christ, we are captive to sin and the Devil. So, give and receive your gifts, but do so with purpose. Rejoice and remember why we are celebrating Christmas.

December 16, 2018

May we never forget what the Christmas season is about: Christ. Luke 2:10 states it perfectly. “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” How is your celebration of Christmas different than that of a lost person celebrating Christmas? Or even the casual cultural Christian? As we give gifts at Christmas, let each gift we give and each gift we receive be a reminder of the greatest gift ever given; our savior. Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas, after all. As it is written in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” What a verse to contemplate, this season.

Our children of TeamKid put on a fabulous Christmas production of “the Emoji Christmas” this morning, so today’s message is unusually brief.

December 09, 2018

Last week, we saw the healing of the lame man at the Temple and that Peter and John seized the divinely provided opportunity to share the gospel with the large crowd surrounding them. And for this, Peter and John were arrested. Yet, 5,000 of those who had heard the Word were saved! This week, we find Peter and John in the midst of the Sanhedrin, being interrogated. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter speaks boldly in the very spot in which Jesus, himself, was interrogated only a few months earlier. Imagine being put on trial for doing a good deed! But, Jesus warned of the coming persecution…and of how to use the opportunity to share the truths of God’s Word. As recorded in Luke 21:13-15, Jesus says,”This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” The opposition could bound these apostles, but they could never bound God’s Word and plan!

 

December 02, 2018

How often do we seize opportunities that God gives us to exalt Christ with those who are far from God? Or to put it negatively, how often do we not seize opportunities to share with those who are far from God? Do you believe God gives you divine opportunities to share the gospel and the truths of God’s Word with others? Most assuredly, He does. Although you may feel ill-prepared or inadequate, God has called you to be His witness. God wants to use you. You need only to be willing and obedient. Your story, your life, your imperfections can be used to bring glory to God. It’s quite possible that you may be the only missionary in the lives of your friends and family. If not you, then who?

 

November 25, 2018

As we study this third chapter of the Book of Acts, we learn of the healing of a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. This man was crippled in his feet from birth, and could not walk at all. Peter said, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And immediately, his feet and ankles were made strong. In fact, he leapt to his feet and straight away he walked and leapt into the Temple! Does this mean that we can heal folks by just uttering “in the name of Jesus … walk?” It is not the specific use of the name “Jesus” that heals the lame man. Rather, the source of the power that heals the crippled beggar, is Jesus himself. “In the name of” means “by the authority of Jesus.” The power that healed the lame man is faith in Jesus and the proclamation of Jesus’ power by the apostles. Why was the man healed? The man was healed, as Peter tells us, to proclaim the gospel and to advance the kingdom of God!

 

November 18, 2018

Jesus healed the ten lepers. Perhaps you’ve read the account as recorded in Luke 17:11-19. These men cried out to Jesus for healing. Verse 14 says, “When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.” At some point in their journey, they all realized that they had been healed of their horrible affliction. They had received a most incredible gift from God. But, only one of these ten men returned to express his gratitude. And he was a Samaritan. This Samaritan falling on his knees is significant, as the Samaritans were hated by the Jews and would be the least likely among these men to have faith in a Jewish messiah, and yet we see him return fired up with gratitude and thankfulness! Pay attention to Jesus’ response to the thankful one in verses 17-19. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Was Jesus’ question rhetorical? No, Jesus was pointing out that the other nine had outrageously thankless attitudes. No one has an acceptable excuse for ungratefulness. Everyone can make the choice to give thanks and acknowledge the goodness and the grace of God! What about you? Are you a thankful person? Moment by moment, are you choosing thankfulness over complaining? Do you feel the need to pray and thank God for all that He has done for you?

 

November 11, 2018

Our attitude affects our lives, more than we may know. Could it be that the issues we deal with in life are more about our attitudes, rather than our struggles, circumstances, or relationships? In the book of Numbers, God's grace and faithfulness contrasts sharply with the Israelites' thanklessness and grumbling complaining. Read chapters 11 through 14. What is the main trait exhibited by the Israelites? A thankless attitude. God had saved them from a life of slavery in Egypt, and had taken them to the very edge of the "Land of Milk and Honey", providing for their every need along the 300-mile journey. And what did the people do? They complained about their lot in life. Seriously?! Because they were unsatisfied with the food the Lord had been providing, and the leader that He had chosen for them, they said that they would have been better off had they stayed in Egypt...as slaves. As a result, an entire generation of Israelites would pass away, everyone aged 20 years and older, before the Lord would allow His people to enter in to the Promised Land! Aside from Caleb and Joshua, of the approximately 2 million Israelites that the Lord had freed from bondage, only the children among them were allowed to inherit the land that had been promised to them. A complaining attitude is an attitude of choice that, if left unchecked, will hinder a person's capacity to experience joy/happiness, genuine thankfulness & contentment, and the ability to grow towards godliness. Are you a complainer? Are you reaping the consequences of complaining in your relationships and in your relationship with God? Are you willing to repent?

 

November 04, 2018

If you were to write down the first 5 things that popped into your head when thinking about God, what would they be? Perhaps “righteous”, “holy”, “faithful”, “loving”, or even “judgmental” might be included in your particular list. What about “happy”? Would you think of God as being filled with joy? Very few people think of God as supremely happy in the fellowship of the Trinity and in the work of creation and redemption. But, God is eternally happy. Consider that in the Gospels, you will find passages such as these: Matthew 25:23 —“…Enter into the joy of your master.”, John 15:11 —“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”, and John 17:13 —“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” These examples serve to show us that God is happy and full of joy and delight. We on the other hand struggle with happiness and joy. Yet, God commands us to have joy! Only God can satisfy the soul forever. Only God can free us to make much of him while having ever-increasing joy for endless ages. Do you have joy? Are you happy? Will you let the Spirit of God fill you with God’s perfect joy?

 

October 28, 2018

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. — Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

Who were “they”? The early church. This was right after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. They began to realize that their possessions were gifts from God, and were willing to use their resources for the common good. Was this a utopian vision of things? No this was a real-life expression of radical love and care for other believers! In other words, they were good stewards with what God had entrusted to them. We see remarkable faithfulness and selflessness because of Pentecost and Peter’s sermon.

abstract background with text 'Deacons'

October 21, 2018

The basic meaning of the Greek word translated into English "deacon" (diakon) suggests the notion of service and servanthood. Why was the role of deacon an absolute necessity? Answer: The incredible growth of the early church. The team approach of the deacon body allowed for some of the practical needs of the community of believers to be met, without halting the ministry of the Apostles. The basic task of the deacons early on was helping those in need of food, water, and clothing (those who were the most vulnerable, such as widows, were certainly a priority), as well as ministering through hospitality. The first deacon named in scripture, Steven, was a good choice…and the first Christian martyr, as we see in Acts 6:8-15.

abstract background with text Peter's Sermon - Part 3

October 14, 2018

This week we will be continuing our look at Peter’s message to the Jews at Pentecost.

abstract background with text Pater's Sermon - Part 2

October 07, 2018

This week we will be looking at Peter’s message to the Jews at Pentecost, where he illuminates who Christ was and is, and Israel’s mistreatment of the messiah. Peter is not just explaining what has all transpired but is directly confronting the audience, and this audience is made up of religious people who likely approved of what transpired. Peter is saying that although they (the Jews) appeared to be God’s people and worshipers of God, they were utterly and totally opposed to God. They killed Jesus, their very own messiah, and did not have a clue as to what they had done.  But, all that took place was according to God’s plan. And in his message, Peter announced that there is Hope: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” — Acts 2:21. And on that day, some 3,000 did just that. What about you? Are you odds with God? Would you let the Holy Spirit convict you to get right with God today?

abstract background with text Pater's Sermon - Part 1

September 30, 2018

We read of prophesy in both the Old and the New Testaments. The Old Testament contains many books written by prophets; Isaiah, Ezekial, Daniel, etc.. Moses may be the most familiar of the Old Testament prophets. The New Testament contains many accounts of the Apostles and others prophesying. But, what about today? What about you? What does it mean to prophesy? The answer may surprise you; the word may not mean exactly what you think it does! Do you have the ability to prophesy? Pastor Ben will show that, in fact, you do! This week, we’re digging deeper into the Book of Acts. Also, we’ll spend a good portion of our time in Joel.

Why is Judas Talked About in Chapter 1 of Acts?

September 23, 2018

We began our study of the Book of Acts in chapter 2, last week, with a look at the Day of Pentecost and the filling of the disciples with the Holy Spirit. This week, we take a step back into chapter 1. We’ll review the story of Judas’ betrayal and how it was prophesied in the Old Testament. Most importantly, Pastor Ben will drive home the point that God’s promises are always fulfilled; some are incredibly encouraging (such as the promise of the Holy Spirit), while others (such as the betrayal of Judas) are more difficult.

Flame on Black Background

September 16, 2018

Today, we begin in earnest our study of the Book of Acts. As we will see, the disciples needed to be baptized in the Holy Spirit in order to be effective instruments for God to accomplish their God-given mission. So, what is this baptism of the Holy Spirit? How is it different than the baptism that we think of, today? How, for the disciples, was it different than saving faith? What does one being baptized in the Holy Spirit mean for the disciples throughout the book of Acts? What about for us today?

Sunrise over the Mountains

September 09, 2018

We begin our lesson three days after the crucifixion of Jesus; the time of His resurrection. During these days that the resurrected Christ was with His apostles, Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures. The veil was lifted. What they had unable to grasp, was now becoming clear. For 40 days, He revealed Himself to them; He encouraged them and prepared them for the mission that lied ahead. At the end of these 40 days, Jesus ascended to the Father in heaven. His earthly mission was complete. Theirs was just beginning.

Sunlight through trees

September 02, 2018

The main theme of John 14 is, in fact, Jesus’ departure. Jesus begins to prepare the disciples for the reality that He will no longer be physically with them. Jesus spent the last three years preparing and teaching these disciples to be prepared for His departure. Although the disciples had already been told many things about Jesus being God, they didn’t really get it. Our focus this morning, is the promise of what is to come next: the Holy Spirit and what that means for the believer. We see the doctrine of the Trinity being more fleshed out as Jesus begins to teach more plainly to the disciples. John 14:16-17 says, in part, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, …You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Weathered Wooden Barn Door covered in Vines

August 26, 2018

The Proverbs 31 woman. What a fitting way to end the book, and our study of it. If one is looking for guidance about how to be, or what it looks like to be, a godly wife and mother one simply cannot escape looking to Proverbs 31 for insights. She is diligent, has a keen sense for business matters, is compassionate, and prepared for the future. She is a good teacher, is dedicated to her family, and (most importantly) possesses the primary characteristic of biblical wisdom, the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7). To be sure, the woman of Proverbs 31 is an ideal; no one is perfect. But, the spirit and motivation that drives her is evident. The final verse in the book says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” When was the last time you praised the Proverbs 31 woman in your life? She is worthy.

Seven Deadly Sins, pt3

August 19, 2018

We sing beautiful, worshipful songs here at Bayshore. If you attend another church, it is assumed that you do the same at your church. These songs of worship contain powerful lyrics that proclaim the power, grace, and mercy of God. And as we sing them, we proclaim that this same God is at the center of it all...that He is the Lord of all...that He is who we live for. But is he? Loudly we sing, "All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give..." But, be honest. Is there a disconnect between what we sing, and how we live? Either you are god, or God is God. Which is it? "Follow you heart!" That's what society teaches. The heart is deceptive, though; there is no fulfillment to be found within it. Ultimately, it will only lead you astray. "Shape your heart in God's truth." You'll find those words of wisdom in Matthew 15:19. Pastor Ben's short series on the Seven Deadly Sins concludes, today, with an examination of lust, and how damaging it is to your Christian walk.

Making God Our Priority

August 12, 2018

Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you sure? Could you be talked out of it? The Bible shows that Jesus did just that on more than one occasion. During His ministry here on earth, Jesus had but 120 followers. Why is that? He performed many miracles in the presence of many witnesses, and yet so few were willing to truly follow Him. Salvation costs you nothing; Jesus paid that price for you. But discipleship…that will cost you everything. Jesus says that if we are to follow him we need to realize the cost of such a decision. Discipleship means “bearing a cross,” accepting the suffering and rejection that Jesus faced. Without such a total commitment discipleship is not possible. Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you sure?

Seven Deadly Sins, pt2

August 05, 2018

The Seven Deadly Sins. While you’ve probably heard of this before, it’s mostly tradition. There are, however, several sins described in the Book of Proverbs that are deadly to your walk and Christian witness. Pastor Ben will guide us as we take a look at seven of these sins, as pointed out in Proverbs. In the second part of this lesson, we’ll be looking at another three of these: Gluttony, Laziness, and Greed.

Seven Deadly Sins, pt1

July 29, 2018

The Seven Deadly Sins. While you’ve probably heard of this before, it’s mostly tradition. There are, however, several sins described in the Book of Proverbs that are deadly to your walk and Christian witness. Pastor Ben will guide us as we take a look at seven of these sins, as pointed out in Proverbs. Today, we’ll be looking at the first three of these: Anger, Envy, and Pride.

Learning to Understand our Emotions

July 22, 2018

Today, Pastor Ben talks about emotion. Proverbs teaches that emotional well-being is connected to physical health and well-being. Godly wisdom teaches us that our emotional struggles may not be the result of any one simple cause. Emotional problems or challenges oftentimes are more complex and involve the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of a person. Anxiety, Hope, Loneliness, Joy, and Guilt are the areas that we'll be examining in this lesson.

Growing To Be A Godly Friend

July 15, 2018

According to Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Many of us have had friendships that have stuck with us over the years and are even “closer than a brother.” How have your friendships shaped and influenced your life? How many real friends do you have—friends who can and will speak the truth to you in love? Timothy Keller has this to say about being a true friend: “If you are too afraid to say what needs to be said, you are really an enemy of your friend’s soul.” Today, Pastor Ben examines the qualities of a Godly friend.

Seeking To Understand The Heart

July 08, 2018

Proverbs talks about walking down a path and reminds us that every action that we take is taking us somewhere. Have you considered that our actions shape our feelings thus affect our hearts? The paths of love versus selfishness leads to two different end points and differ along the way. One path illuminates while the other darkens our hearts. In the Bible our heart is not just the place from which our emotion comes from, but rather our heart is the place from where our deepest trust, commitment, and love flows. This week, we’re in Chapter 4 of the Book of Proverbs. A thunderstorm knocked out our power not once, but twice during the message. There are a few minutes of audio missing at around the 5-minute mark.

Your Love Story Is Worth Fighting For

July 01, 2018

Selfishness... It can be found at the root of all marital problems. And there's nothing quite like marriage that can reveal just how selfish we are. What is the secret to a long and enjoyable marriage? Proverbs 5:15 sums it up nicely: "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth..." But, what does that mean? Marriage is a covenant. It is a covenant like no other, as it is representative of God's covenant with His people. The marriage vows taken at the altar have less to do with love in the present, and much more to do with the promise of a continued love in the future; a love that is not dependent upon our circumstances. Are you willing to admit your selfishness, and be present in the moment? Are you willing to put God at the center of your marriage, rather than yourself? Our prayer this morning is that the lord would teach us to recommit to our vows and help us to practice a covenantal love in our marriage.

Six MArks Of A Wise Person

June 24, 2018

What is the point of the Book of Proverbs? It is to guide us into a life of wisdom; Godly wisdom. Pastor Ben continues his exploration of this topic, as taught in Chapter 3 of the Book of Proverbs. What are the marks of a wise person? You may, indeed, be surprised. Listen as Ben helps us to understand what is (and what is not) true wisdom.

Growing in Godly Wisdom

June 17, 2018

Wisdom and knowledge are not one in the same. Knowledge has many sources: schools, books, mentors, etc. But, acquiring knowledge alone is not enough to become wise. Wisdom requires putting that knowledge into practice; life experience, deep reflection, and the mistakes we make, too, (provided that we learn from them) are necessary components. True wisdom, however, is Godly wisdom. Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;” Are you asking, desiring, and learning to delight in God’s wisdom?

five kinds of fools text on a flame background

June 10, 2018

The dictionary defines foolish as having or showing a lack of good sense, judgment, or discretion. God's Word shows us that we are foolish in many different ways; it tells us that our attitudes are the reasons why we are either wise or foolish people. In this message, we'll learn what the books of Proverbs and Psalms have to say about the foolish.

reasons to be more thankful text on floral background image

June 03, 2018

Tragedy. Sooner or later, we all experience it. But, in the midst of the crisis, what do we do with it? Where do we put our focus? It is in these times that our faith is truly revealed. We can curse God for our affliction, or we can praise Him in the middle of it. And what better example of this, than Job?

in the father's hand

May 27, 2018

Do you crave an authentic relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ, or is He treated as your personal "genie"? Join us as Xavier Bright, our Youth Minister, fills in for the "vacationing" Pastor Ben. His message is quite personal, and truly hits close to home. Xavier calls on John 6:25-35, this morning.

sunrise canyon

May 20, 2018

As believers, we have great love for God. We are incredibly thankful for the love that He has for us. Or, at least we should be. We worship Him in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls. We sing powerful songs to Him, and about Him. We sing these amazing songs in church, in our cars, and in our homes. Emotionally, they are moving and sometimes bring us to tears.  And yet, are we able to translate that love for God into a loving passion for the sharing of the gospel with the lost around us, or is there a disconnect between the two? The heartbeat of the gospel and the heartbeat of Jesus that lead him to the cross was His mission, which was to advance the kingdom of God. How is His Kingdom to be advanced, if it is not made known?

mother's day

May 13, 2018

Moms give us confidence in this life, because we know that we are unconditionally loved. Despite the great challenges and tragedy she faced, Mary is a great example of the depths of a mother’s love. From the beginning, Mary understands that her child, Jesus, would be her greatest joy, and yet the greatest sorrow a Mother could ever endure. Join us as Pastor Ben shows, through Scripture, that the moments we are living in are gifts from God. Mary understood this, and she lived and loved fully in the moments she was given with Jesus. The majority of Scriptures in today's Mother's Day message are found in Luke, and John.

anxiety

May 06, 2018

Anxiety. Worry. Stress. Depression. We all experience these related conditions, to one degree or another. But, is anxiety a sin? Both Jesus and Paul clearly state that it is. To be clear, we are not talking about the types of anxiety that results from chemical imbalances, or psychiatric disorders such as clinical depression, severe anxiety, etc.. In the Biblical context, anxiety is shown to be a trust issue. Do we trust that God really is in control? Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?“ The question is, then, can God use our anxious moments to mature our faith? Of course, He can! In these times, what should be our single greatest pursuit? The confession of our great need for more of him. We have to ask God to increase our hunger and thirst for Him, especially in our times of worry and/or doubt. The Psalmist writes of this in Psalm 34:4, when he says, "I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears."  Today, Pastor Ben digs deep into Psalm 42, as well as several passages from New Testament scripture.

there is hope for freedom in Christ

April 29, 2018

"How can we who died to sin still live in it?" This very question is raised in Romans 6:2. The price that Christ paid on the cross allows for those who believe in Him to live under grace, rather than under the Jewish law. Paul teaches this Gospel of grace, repeatedly, throughout the New Testament. Does the fact that believers live in a state of grace mean, as some have supposed, that immoral living really doesn't matter? Grace and justification are two of our topics, and Pastor Ben will teach us of what justification means and how the Gospel's teachings in this area are rejected by some, or at least misunderstood. Romans 6:1-14 is where we will be focused, today.

comparing the sins of saul and david

April 22, 2018

How easily are we deceived by our sin. Sin is not the violation of our conscience or community standards, but of God’s will for us. This flies in the face of today’s culture, which says that only we can define what’s right and wrong for us. A Holy God defines sin, not us. And God’s Word tells us that obedience is not too hard or burdensome. In this lesson, Pastor Ben leads us through 1Samuel 15 and examines the sins of two of Israel's kings, Saul and David. Could it be that we may be guilty of the same?

edisonbulb

April 15, 2018

So, you've accepted Christ...What's next? Jesus didn't come just to save you from hell. As it is written in John 10:10, He came to show you the way that you may have life, and have it abundantly! Along the way, we'll see that it starts with an attitude of thankfulness. Choosing to be Christ-like (and it is a choice that must be made continually) is not always easy, particularly at first. In time, however, it can become almost second nature. Consistency is key.  In this message, Pastor Ben guides us through Colossians 3:1-17.

stone wall

April 8, 2018

In today's message, Pastor Ben sheds light on Paul's mindset while in the midst of his suffering for the Gospel. Paul accepts a God’s view perspective; He accepts that his God allowed this sovereign hardship, and even realizes that it is to serve the larger purpose of advancing the gospel. As puzzling as this may seem, his attitude towards his suffering is to rejoice!

easter sunday sunrise

April 1, 2018

In this Resurrection Sunday message, Pastor Ben helps us to understand that every promise of the Gospel Message hinged on the prayers of Jesus at Gethsemane just before His betrayal. We may be familiar with the evening as recounted in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, but do we really understand the significance of Jesus' prayers and what He was actually praying for?

palm leaves

March 25, 2018

Pastor Ben shows us the irony in the accounts of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, supported by Old Testament prophesy, and then concludes the massage with some tough questions, such as:

  • Who is Jesus to you?
  • What does your worship look like?
  • Are you sure you are truly a disciple of Jesus?
identity

March 18, 2018

The 18th and final installment of Pastor Ben's series, "Identity - A Study of Ephesians". In this lesson, we explore the fact that every Christian is a soldier in the midst of a war; a spiritual war between two kingdoms: Jesus' and Satan's.

identity

March 11, 2018

We are nearing the end of "Identity - A Study of Ephesians". In this, Ben's 17th lesson in the series, we look at what our rewards in heaven may look like. The Bible teaches us repeatedly that God rewards the works of faithful believers as a way of encouraging them to persevere in holiness and faithfulness, knowing that the God who loves them sees and knows all and will reward our acts of obedience.