Beloved, we long to be in the right place at the right time. When these two elements come together the result is astounding. When we first came to Christ we were at the right place at the right time. When you first met your spouse you were at the right place at the right time. Imagine…that the Creator of the universe can place you at the right place at the right time in order to help bring eternal life to a lost soul.
It was with immediate obedience, with little information but complete trust in the God who guides that Philip set out on his adventure. For God to summon Philip from a thriving ministry in Samaria to the wilderness of the Judean hills was not an irrational move. God's goal is not only “quantity” but also “quality,” in the sense of an ethnically diverse body of Christ.
Beloved, in a day when four of six billion have yet to hear the gospel within their own language and culture, we should not be surprised to see God calling our most effective evangelists to go to remote places. And like Philip, they should obey immediately and unquestioningly.
Beloved, God has created us to be at the right place at the right time. See it, feel it and trust it. See His face, Feel His presence, and Trust His love! Remember, today is only the beginning of a beautiful adventure with our Creator. Enjoy!
Beloved, weeds are a problem. If you have ever grown a garden, you understand the problems that arise and the necessity for weed control. For example, a class three weed is classified as a plant that poses a
potentially serious threat to primary production or the environment of a region to which the order applies. The control for this weed is that the plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
Beloved, the early church had a weed problem. If the enemy does not come as a lion to devour then he'll come as a serpent to deceive and come he did in the person of Simon the Sorcerer. Simon was a weed among the wheat.
Jesus had mentioned this upcoming weed problem. His advice in Matthew 13:30 was, "Let both grow together until the harvest. and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, "Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
The unfortunate thing about weeds is that sometimes it is difficult to tell the weed from the wheat. Are you a weed or are you wheat?
The term, “irony” is defined as the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning i.e. the intended meaning and the actual meaning are opposite of one another. The irony of persecution is the fact that persecution in itself desires to destroy but often the opposite occurs, it brings growth.
When persecution comes to the church, the church grows. When persecution enters our life, if we stay close to Christ, then we will grow spiritually as we mature in our relationship with the Lord. So, stay strong.Beloved, Satan’s attempt to stamp out the Church’s fire merely scattered the embers and started new fires around the world. In the early Church Father Tertullian’s words, “the blood of the martyr has become the seed of the church.
Indeed, Stephen’s death was not a failure! His death led to many more people coming to know Christ. The principle to this found in John 12:24- “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Beloved, don’t allow persecution to defeat you but allow it to inspire you to grow!
Beloved, Stephen was about to face the firing squad of stones, which ultimately led to his death. He did not live a very long life, but he led a full life.
But why did Stephen have to die? Beloved, unless the Lord returns, we will all face death as Hebrews 9:27 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
But why did Stephen have to die so young? Beloved, God does not promise us a long life, but He promises us a full life, an abundant life. Medicine may add years to your life, but it can never add life to your years. God adds life to your years and gives you a full abundant life as John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Beloved, we only have one life to live so we must live it in order to make it count. As you look back on your life can you say that you have lived a life that counts? If not, there is still time to make an impact in this world for Jesus Christ. There is still time to live a life that counts!
Beloved, as the Israelites suffered under the oppressive hand of Pharaoh they looked to the Lord for help. The Lord heard their cry as it says in Acts 7:34- “I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.”
I realize that you may desire an answer to your current situation and thus you may ask, “Why, Lord?” Beloved, Dave Branon wrote: When we face unexpected grief and ask “Who?” we get this answer: “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). When we face a period of weakness, we discover that “the Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2). When the ungodliness of this world seems overwhelming, we can know that the “God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). When “Why, God?” is on your heart, ask instead, “Who are You, God?” Then seek Him in His Word.”
Beloved, God is always faithful to keep His word!
Beloved, we had a great youth retreat. I would like to say “Thank You” to all of those who helped with the retreat either financially, prayerfully and in service to the Lord. Many went out of their way to provide transportation and even a great feast of ribs and chicken. I also want to thank all of the servants who persevered through the heat and “camping” of the HE Butt Foundation Free Camp. You went above and beyond in serving our youth and the youth of other sister churches in our area. We had 107 total campers- the most ever! Beloved, we had a great youth retreat. I would like to say “Thank You” to all of those who helped with the retreat either financially, prayerfully and in service to the Lord. Many went out of their way to provide transportation and even a great feast of ribs and chicken. I also want to thank all of the servants who persevered through the heat and “camping” of the HE Butt Foundation Free Camp. You went above and beyond in serving our youth and the youth of other sister churches in our area. We had 107 total campers- the most ever!
I am certain that the youth were blessed and changed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His Word through the Book of Ephesians and the ministry of The Whosoevers Ambassadors Austin Carlile and Christian Boudreau. It was a packed weekend and we give all the glory to God! Please continue to pray for our youth and their continued passion for the Lord!
Beloved, Sheila and I and many other youth, helpers and servants are at youth camp this morning and we will be returning this afternoon around 2:00PM. Though I am writing this beforehand, I am certain that the Lord did a magnificent work at camp this year. We had two special guests, Austin Carlile and Christina Boudreau, both of the Whosoevers, share at this year’s Youth Retreat! Hopefully some of the Youth will share next Sunday a few things the Lord did in them and through them at this year’s retreat!
Teaching in my place today will be Austin Carlile. Austin is part of the Whosoevers and also use to be a lead singer for the group, "Of Mice and Men.” The Lord has given Austin a wonderful testimony of His grace and mercy and I am certain it will be evident as he shares from the Word this morning! We will see you either this coming Wednesday or Sunday! Blessings!
Beloved, Stephen's name means "victor's crown" and what follows is his "victory speech!" Whether he realizes it or not, he will soon be stoned, but as a Spirit filled man, he is impelled to speak forth boldly.
MacArthur comments that Stephen first seeks to gain his Jewish listener's interest - He knows that if they are going to hear what he says, they are going to have to want to hear it. They are going to have to have a desire to listen. And so, he talks about their favorite subject. He builds his whole sermon on their own history, and that was their favorite subject.
Beloved, remember, God’s purpose, promise and protection is for you as well!
Beloved- it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
Stephen, the first martyr of the early church, did not live a long life here on earth. In fact, after one of his first sermons, he was stoned to death. Yet, Stephen made his years count for Christ.
As he left earth for heaven the Holy Spirit records in Acts 6:15, “And they saw that his face was like the face of an angel!” Stephen had the face of an angel because he reflected the glory of God. He is one of maybe two in the entire history of the world, (Moses, being the other) whose face has reflected God’s glory.
The outward manifestation of God’s glory on Stephen’s face came about because he had an inward glory as well. Stephen is described in Scripture as a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit and full of God’s grace and power. Though he was falsely accused, violently arrested and ultimately stoned to death; Stephen kept his composure and thus his face was like the face of an angel.
Stephen’s life shows us that the efforts of one courageous person, though of short duration, could have far reaching effects. Remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” Beloved, are you making your years count?
Beloved, there are different techniques Satan used in his attempt to destroy the church. Initially, Satan tries to use intimidation. He tried this technique with Peter and John through the religious leaders, but it did not work; the church only grew.
Secondly, he tried to destroy the church through corruption. He did through Ananias and Sapphira as they attempted their hypocrisy but the Holy Spirit intervened.
A third technique is division. Satan will attempt to get people to fight each other and create a diversion a allowing them to spend their energy on fighting each other rather than on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It seems that many believers want to use their pruning hooks on each other rather than on reaping the harvest.
Whatever technique the enemy tries to use remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18- “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”