Month: January 2015

Sight Unseen

Before the oil boom began to expand into West Central Texas, houses in rural communities could be purchased at ridiculously low prices. A man in California, hammered by housing costs, saw a local listing online, called the listing agent, and bought a two-bedroom house “site unseen,” for only $11,000. He didn’t visit, or inspect the property, but he paid cash. He didn’t have to see the house to know it was there, and he didn’t want to risk it being sold from under him by making the trip to inspect the property. While the home did need some repair, he was ultimately happy with his decision.

One of the unique things about the Christian faith is that we believe that which we have not seen. While all religions require the belief in something that has been unseen, the Christian faith requires faith in that which is unseen. What’s the difference between belief and faith? Belief carries the notion of accepting a truth without really trusting it. Faith means you trust something, or someone.

1 Peter 1:8-9 refers to Jesus Christ when it says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

The Christian faith is all about trusting someone you haven’t seen. The Christians Peter wrote to had never seen Jesus Christ in the flesh. They were not likely living in Jerusalem, or even alive at the time Jesus carried out his ministry on Earth. Yet, Peter spoke not only of their faith in Jesus, but their love for Him as well. That was what Peter said resulted in their salvation, and their unspeakable joy.

Jesus, Himself, knew that this would be an issue for many people. That’s why He told Thomas, “You believe because you have seen, blessed are those who, having not seen, still believe.” Faith in Christ is rewarded for us because, even though we didn’t get to see Him in the flesh, we still trust Him to save us.

None-the-less, some still challenge this sightless faith. “If God wants us to believe in Him, why doesn’t He just reveal Himself to the world?” That question sounds an awful lot like the Pharisees, who, in Matthew 16:1, demanded that Jesus (who had already healed the blind and disabled, cleansed the lepers, fed the multitudes and raised the dead), provide a sign from Heaven. Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”

The Bible teaches that those who will not take God at His word won’t believe, no matter what signs are given.

The Christian faith means taking God at His word. Those believers to whom Peter wrote came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the study of the Old Testament (the New Testament was still being put together.) Mainly, their studies showed how Jesus fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophets, and as a result, they accepted Him as Savior. That’s what Peter referred to in 1 Peter 1:10-12:

Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

The prophets wrote the prophecies God gave them to write, and while they didn’t always understand, they knew the Word was about Christ, and the salvation that would come through Him. Those prophecies, being fulfilled by Christ, made a lot more sense to the Christians in the New Testament, and thus their faith was strengthened by their study of the scriptures.

Romans 10:17 tells us that “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you will get into the Bible, read it, and accept it, your faith will grow. However, you must be willing to take God at His word. That is what trust (faith) is all about.

Finally, Faith means looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 says “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” To gird up the loins of your mind, and to be sober, means to be alert. It means to be aware of what’s going on, and knowing how current events play into the return of Jesus Christ. Our hope, our confident expectation, is the coming of the Lord Jesus. It’s something we look forward to, and something we long for… because it’s his return that will put an end to the struggles that we face. We look forward to the return of Christ the same way a kid in school looks for the return of his parents to take him home.

So, how about you? Do you trust the Lord? Do you take Him at His word? And are you looking forward to His return?

Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m., morning worship at 11 a.m., every Sunday at the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802. 

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Better Days Ahead (1 Peter 1)

Three weeks ago, we said goodbye to the year 2014, and hello to 2015. For many, 2014 was a break-through year. For others, it was a tough year, and they are glad to see it go.

I know at Grace Pointe, we faced our own challenges. Financial difficulties drove us from our rented church building, to holding services at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s community room. Attendance declined, yet tithes and offerings remained steady. We changed many things… eliminated Wednesday night services, and began a series of small groups. We eliminated Sunday evening services, and began Sunday afternoon services. Then, we eliminated the afternoon services altogether. Monthly potlucks were replaced by monthly lunches at local restaurants. Grace Pointe remained committed to our mission of spreading the Gospel, and made changes to help us accomplish that mission. That being said, I will not pretend that it was easy.

When things fall apart, when times get tough, and when discouragement begins to set in, there are several things we can remember from the book of 1 Peter.

We can remember that this world is not our home. 1 Peter 1:1 says, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, ” The key word, there, is “strangers.” In the New Testament, Christians used the term “strangers” to describe themselves, as this world was not their home, but Heaven was. This idea follows the old hymn, “This World is Not My Home,” which says:

This world is not my home I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

As Christians, we have a greater hope than anything that we can accomplish in this world. No matter how good, or bad things are here, we can be assured that things will be much greater in Heaven.

We can remember that God holds us in the palm of His hand. 1 Peter 1:2 says, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

That word, “elect,” means “chosen.” God has chosen us to be saved. The basis of his choice was his foreknowledge of whether we would receive the Gospel, whether we would repent and trust Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Seeing beforehand the choice we made, God predestined our lives to bring us to that decision. He set us aside (sanctified) us through the Holy Spirit, and purchased our salvation by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Once He saves us, He keeps us. 1 Peter 1:5 says, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” We can not save ourselves, nor can we keep ourselves saved. It all happens by God’s will, and His power.

Therefore, no matter what happens, we can trust that God holds us in His hand. He will work the things in our lives to our benefit, and He will receive us into Heaven. Though the storm rages, we can be at peace in the eye of the storm.

Finally, We can trust that God is using the adversities in our lives to strengthen us, and form us into the people He intended on us being. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

When God allows adversity to happen in your life, He is refining you, strengthening you, and building your endurance and faith. He is building you into someone who can do great things for Him, so that you will be received into Heaven with honor. In this verse, Peter compares the trials of our faith to the way gold is purified. It is heated up, melted, and the impurities are burned and sifted out of it. The result is a pure, highly valuable metal. When God finishes with us, we will be the people He created us to be.

Regardless of outcome, 2015 will be an interesting year. Oil prices will continue to fall and then will rise. The stock market will do some flips, and pre-Presidential politics will move to the forefront of any discussion on current events. Whether the year ahead brings good things, or tough challenges, you can live in peace, knowing that God has you taken care of, if you know Christ as your Savior.

As for Grace Pointe, we hope to see our new worship facility built this year. Feel free to come and visit. Grace Pointe meets in the Early Chamber of Commerce, 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX 76802. Sunday School is at 10 am, morning worship is at 11 am.