Gospel

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.